Take action now to help protect bighorn sheep

Bighorn Sheep - an ewe and lamb
Bighorn sheep ewe and lamb, courtesy of Barry Dale Gilfry (CC BY-SA 2.0, https://www.flickr.com/photos/websterwebfoot/48651098092)

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently drafted a new management plan for public land in eastern and central Colorado, that supports roughly 58% of the statewide population of bighorn sheep. Sign the petition to ask the BLM to improve the plan to conserve a bighorn sheep migration corridor and other important habitat, and to reduce the risk of herds being exposed to devastating respiratory diseases.  

Petition Language:

Dear Keith Berger,

Bighorn sheep are one of Colorado’s most iconic wildlife species. They are one of the most popular watchable wildlife species in the state, and provide sought after hunting opportunities. The draft Eastern Colorado Resource Management Plan will determine how public land that supports roughly 58% of statewide population of bighorn sheep will be managed. The BLM should improve protections for bighorn sheep in the draft Eastern Colorado Resource Management Plan.

Specifically, we ask that BLM designate the proposed Arkansas Canyons Bighorn Sheep Migration Corridor Management Area, and the proposed Arkansas River Bighorn Sheep Habitat Management Area as Backcountry Conservation Areas. Designating these areas as BCAs will protect a bighorn sheep migration corridor, and habitat important for pregnant female bighorn sheep in spring and survival of bighorn sheep in winter. Conservation of these areas is essential to maintaining bighorn sheep populations and providing opportunities for wildlife watching, hunting and backcountry recreation.

In addition, the draft plan opens public land in and around bighorn sheep habitat to grazing by domestic sheep and goats. This unnecessarily puts bighorn sheep populations at risk of being exposed to devastating respiratory diseases. The BLM should continue to prohibit domestic sheep and goat grazing allotments in areas where grazing could result in potential for contact between domestic sheep and goats and bighorn sheep. This is the only effective way to prevent or minimize transmission of disease between domestic sheep and goats and bighorn sheep.

The draft plan should also put more emphasis on conservation of mule deer and elk winter range and migration corridors. This is needed to address concerns about the health of big game herds in Colorado and to be consistent with Governor Polis’s Executive Order (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HokP2Vsh749PpJtazPgldLgEjbYjypro/view) to conserve big game habitat and migration corridors in Colorado, and the Interior Department’s Secretarial Order (https://www.blm.gov/policy/ib-2019-005) to improve big game habitat and migration corridors on public lands.

Please see this letter (submitted by Rocky Mountain Wild and other conservation organizations during the comment period on the draft Eastern Colorado Resource Management Plan, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1tEF1mmqpdONgvLKOE52t1srvypAY0Yba/view), for more details on the requests in this petition.

The BLM should improve protections for bighorn sheep in the draft Eastern Colorado Resource Management Plan

Dear Keith Berger,

**your signature**

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