Here at WildEarth Guardians, we’re not afraid to challenge the powerful. When we see what looks like a sheer cliff face in front of us, we act like bighorn sheep—find our footing and move forward, one rocky step at a time.
Icons of the American West, bighorn sheep are social creatures known for seeking out other sheep—domestic and wild—regardless of the terrain that separates them. However, these seemingly friendly encounters with their domestic cousins are often a death sentence for entire bighorn herds—but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Guardians has been advocating on behalf of bighorn sheep for years. We know that grazing domestic sheep near their wild cousins results in die-offs when diseases are transmitted to the wild herds. In fact, the best available science proves it, but the government continues bending over backward to appease the livestock industry.
Land management agencies continue to authorize domestic sheep grazing across the West, including in wilderness areas, importing diseases along with the domestic sheep into what should be refuges for wild species. This unconscionable practice leads to the deaths of thousands and is completely unnecessary and preventable. That’s why Guardians is calling for an end to most domestic sheep grazing on public lands.
In our Summer 2022 issue of Wild at Heart, you can read about how we’re taking on the powerful livestock industry and refusing to back down when they ignore science. As Guardians, we will continue holding up vulnerable species like bighorns and grizzly bears that are often overlooked, vilified, or as seems to be the case so often, sacrificed so the grazing industry can profit.
Together, we can restore bighorns to many of the cliffs, mountain slopes, and valleys they once called home.