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Sheep in high country bad idea

Growing up in an agricultural home raising livestock, it was good to see the recent articles about the Bayfield Future Farmers of America plant sale and Ignacio students learning about livestock. The thing that concerns me though is livestock and public lands grazing. It seems that taking thousands of sheep into the high country during the drought situation we are in is irresponsible and not good stewardship or good conservation of the fragile alpine environment, where they spend the summer. Are steps being taken to mitigate the damage done up there to the alpine environment, which will take years to recover from previous summers?

Also, domestic sheep spread disease to bighorn sheep, causing die-offs of these wild herds. This is not speculation, this is a data-based scientific fact. Ever wonder why you don’t see more bighorn sheep in some of the best wild habitat for them here in Southwest Colorado? It's because they aren’t there like they should be. This is the state mammal as well as the symbol for Colorado Parks and Wildlife logo. It would be great to bring the bighorn herds back to historic levels or even close.

Domestic sheep and bighorn sheep can’t coexist, the bighorns lose. Most of these areas are public lands, yours and mine. Let’s be good stewards of them. Check out the bighorn sheep monitoring program to learn more. (https://www.mountainstudies.org/bighorn).

Rick Hooley