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Bighorn Ruling Could Have Impact On Western Grazing

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recognizing a connection between bighorn sheep die-offs and diseases transmitted by domestic sheep could have far-reaching effects on federal grazing allotments in the West.

The ruling earlier this month against domestic sheep producers upheld a lower court ruling in Idaho supporting a U.S. Forest Service decision to close grazing allotments to protect bighorns.

Laurie Rule of Advocates for the West says it's the first time a U.S. circuit court has ruled on disease transmission between the species and the decision could guide federal agencies or be used in future lawsuits.

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The Idaho Wool Growers Association sued in 2012 contending the Forest Service illegally shut down 70 percent of sheep grazing in the Payette National Forest in western Idaho.