I'm not sure. I saw this last spring and never got a chance to ask John Wehausen (sheep researcher in Bishop) what was going on (I mean, really going on). Press reports, though, seem to indicate this was an end run done in the dark of the night -- just a published notice by USFS but without consulting the Bighorn Recovery Team [NOTE: I'm not sure of that]. It's also unclear whether they're talking about Sierra bighorn or the desert bighorn. In any event, the USFS plan claimed they'd be protecting the sheep by reducing the chance of them carrying disease from domestic sheep into the wild population. Awfully nice of them... . There is a very real danger of wild Bighorn getting pneumonia and scabies from domestic sheep. One of the early transplant herds (in Lava Beds) was wiped out by a domestic herder cutting the fence on the Monument and letting his sheep in.
The subtext may be that our buddy Richard Pombo (R/Central Valley) may be behind it by pressuring the USFS to not interfere with domestic sheep grazing when it interferes with Bighorn habitat.
It's also interesting that there doesn't seem to be any news that this policy (killing bighorn who might be exposed to domestic sheep) has actually been carried out since it was published last spring. I'm willing to bet it died a quiet death.
The Center for Biological Diversity just filed a lawsuit saying the government (USFS) wasn't doing enough to protect habitat -- specifically favoring domestic sheep over Bighorn habitat and specifically in Inyo and Bridgeport area. That could be either desert or Sierra Bighorn. I'll write John a note and see if I can get an update.
http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/swcb ... -8-05.html
http://www.newfarm.org/news/2005/0605/0 ... heep.shtml
Next: HookUp: Tell me you're being ironically provocative and not, ummm, a bit unclear on the concept... ? Neither domestic sheep (a non-native species) nor trout (another non-native species in the High Sierra) are in any way endangered. Protection of the NATIVE Mountain Yellow-legged frog and the NATIVE Sierra Bighorn -- and efforts to reclaim habitat -- is because they're a vital part of a wild Sierra. If it's not done they will quickly become extinct. In the entire Sierra, there's maybe only 30 lakes (out of, literally thousands) that are having fish netted to restore frog habitat. Your fish are safe, how about giving up a few lakes for the froggies... .
As a side note, my earliest memories of hiking in the Sierra in Yosemite (late 60s) are of walking along alpine lake shores and watching as hundreds of Mountain Yellow-legged frogs would jump from the grassy banks into the lake. 15 years later, frogs had been wiped out in all of those lakes. They are a vital part of the Sierra.
I'm just about to post a new article at Sierra Nature Notes on the latest efforts in froggy recovery (and will give you folks a sneak preview...) Check the maps of extinction of frog populations -- most of it in the last 20 years; also the map of Chytrid fungus outbreaks which, in addition to trout, are killing the frogs.