The co-mingling of Bighorn and Domestic Sheep is one of the biggest threats to our native wildlife species are diseases of domestic animals. WWF is a member of the Wyoming Bighorn/Domestic Sheep Interaction Working Group, convened to develop recommendations for minimizing the co-mingling of these animals. Bighorn sheep are extremely susceptible to diseases of domestic sheep, especially a virulent form of pneumonia, which can be fatal. WWF is currently addressing this issue on BLM lands where co-mingling is common. One project includes the land on the west side of the Bighorn Basin. This program represents an important role WWF plays in keeping wildlife – our iconic bighorn sheep herds – healthy and wild.
WWF Field Scientist Steve Kilpatrick has been coordinating with leaders of the Bridger-Teton National Forest as well as with the Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation, National Wildlife Federation, and numerous other stakeholders concerning two potential allotment buyouts, one in the upper Green River and the other in the Wyoming Range.
Since 2002, WWF has worked to retire livestock grazing allotments on public lands in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and in other parts of the state where there have been conflicts caused by the co-mingling of bighorn and domestic sheep, as well as large carnivore conflicts with livestock. This effort has contributed to 14 of these voluntary allotment buyouts thus far, totaling 850,000 acres. All transactions are on a willing seller, willing buyer basis, and the vast majority of the grazing permittees are still in the livestock production business while a few have reinvested elsewhere.