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New Mexico Plans to Eliminate 50 more Bighorn Sheep

Discussion in 'Big Game Hunting Forum' started by JDK, Mar 13, 2018.

  1. JDK

    JDK Moderator Moderator Flyway Manager

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    New Mexico plans to eliminate 50 more bighorn sheep

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    The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) has announced the removal of more bighorn sheep in an effort to keep disease away from wild herds. The hunt targets bighorn sheep in the Rio Grande Gorge near Taos, New Mexico. Officials say that the wild herd has become too large and by eliminating at least 50 they hope to keep contact with disease-carrying domestic livestock at bay.

    NMDGF was forced to lethally remove a total of eight bighorn sheep from the Rio Grande Gorge herd because of their proximity to their domestic counterpart. Because domestic sheep are known carriers of bacterial pneumonia, which can decimate wild bighorn sheep herds, the removal in January was proactive in an effort to keep the herd healthy. That same reason is the rationale behind this recent decision.

    However, several animal rights groups have spoken out against NMDGF’s decision, suggesting that rather than kill bighorn sheep, the real solution is moving the domestic sheep out of the wild sheep’s range.

    “If the domestic sheep remain in such close proximity to wild bighorn habitat, so will the risk of a pneumonia-related die-off in the bighorn herd,” said Melissa Cain, the Bighorn Habitat Campaign Coordinator for Western Watersheds Project, in a press release. “The Bureau of Land Management should instead address these risks by removing domestic sheep from bighorn sheep habitat.”

    “It sounds crazy when you say it out loud: We’re killing bighorns to save them,” said Greg Dyson of WildEarth Guardians in a press release. “Instead, we should be looking the root of the problem: people who raise livestock on our public lands for their own personal gain. The Rio Grande Gorge herd is iconic, and people travel from far and wide to view it. Now we’re killing over 10% of this herd so a few people can continue to profit by raising livestock on lands that belong to us all. We’ve really got to get our priorities better aligned with the natural world.”

    The Rio Grande Gorge bighorn sheep herd has thrived since 2005 when Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep were relocated to the area. In 2007, additional bighorn sheep were relocated from the Pecos Mountains. The relocation efforts were successful and, now, the herd numbers about 280, according to New Mexico Wildlife.

    New Mexico will offer a Rio Grande Gorge bighorn sheep hunt for the 2018 season. It will run Aug. 15, 2018, to Jan. 19, 2019. Only four licenses will be available – the first time since 2015.
     
  2. Native NV Ducker

    Native NV Ducker Mod-Duck Hunters Forum, Classifieds, and 2 others Moderator Flyway Manager

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    It has become normal to take out sheep in our area that show signs of the sickness. I realized that isn't the same as your situation, but killing them seems to be working for the herd overall.
     
  3. chuam

    chuam Elite Refuge Member

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    I'm in agreement that you shouldn't allow domestic sheep in the bighorn range if they are going to pass along disease.
     
  4. Native NV Ducker

    Native NV Ducker Mod-Duck Hunters Forum, Classifieds, and 2 others Moderator Flyway Manager

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    On the surface, I agree. However, this appears to be a very one sided story...
    So, this 'iconic' herd has existed for 13 years. I am thinking 'iconic' and '13 years' don't belong in the same paragraph.

    It reminds me of the old pig farm on the outskirts of Vegas. When it was established, there wasn't another house for 10 miles. Real Estate developers ended up putting houses right up to the farm fences. Oddly enough, the residents complained of the smell. They demanded the farm be shut down.

    Since the story doesn't tell us, I am going to assume the people running the livestock have been doing it for decades, if not generations. They probably also pay user fees. Their entire livelihood is based on grazing those animals in that area. Nobody probably asked them if there could be problems if the Bighorns were introduced, and since they only lease the land, I guess that is fine. But to now blame the domestic sheep, who were there first, as the problem, well, that is just the way this country is going now.

    That said, it probably enters into WHY the decision was made to reduce the Bighorn population, and not the domestic sheep.
     
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  5. chuam

    chuam Elite Refuge Member

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    From what I read they were incredibly numerous there but hunting and livestock decimated them. The reintroduction several years ago is helping bring them back.

    I get using lands for livestock but I’m not supporting it at the detriment of native species
     
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