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Field Report: Reducing Livestock/Wildlife Conflict

WWF continues to work with partners to resolve grazing allotment wildlife-livestock conflicts. Last year the partners addressed two allotments, one in the Wyoming Range (67,000 acres) and one in the upper Green River drainage (32,000 acres).  The upper Green River allotment complex accounted for over 68% of all grizzly bear -domestic sheep related conflicts in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Moreover, it posed disease transmission risks from domestic to bighorn sheep. This was the last domestic sheep allotment situated with a “native Bighorn Sheep core herd unit”.  The Wyoming Range allotment complex is located within the Dary BH Sheep herd unit.  While it considered a “non-emphasis” herd unit, about 60+ bighorns do inhabit the area.  The benefits to an array of other wildlife species will also be considerable.

For a little background information, on March 2, 2016 the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals upheld earlier court decisions to reduce domestic sheep grazing in proximity to bighorns due to the high risk of disease transmission from domestics to wild sheep. Thus, we believe producers will continue to be motivated to find long-term solutions and business security. Compensating producers to voluntarily retire their grazing permits will continue to create an atmosphere where producers can reinvest in areas void of domestic/BH Sheep disease conflicts.

WWF will continue to work with grazing permittees, USFS and key partners in address remaining livestock/wildlife conflict allotments. Many of the allotment complexes, including the two above, have been placed in a “vacancy” status awaiting NEPA analysis to determine if change in class of livestock (from sheep to cattle) or limited grazing could occur on parts of the allotments. Much of this will be addressed during the Bridger-Teton forest plan revision which will be initiated soon.  WWF will be engaged in this process.

Our goal is to help resolve conflicts, not put livestock producers out of business or remove livestock from all public lands.  WWF helps find funds for willing grazing allotment permitees so they can reinvest in other allotments void of livestock/wildlife conflicts or other business opportunities. WWF and its partners use this conflict resolution approach in hopes of building partnerships and community support.