Bighorn sheep targeted in lawsuit and by disease

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LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) -- Three environmental groups are challenging a decision by the Payette National Forest to stop implementing new grazing restrictions designed to protect bighorn sheep in north-central Idaho.

The lawsuit filed this week takes aim at a rider attached to a 2012 congressional spending bill that forbids federal agencies from spending money on carrying out a policy that ultimately limits grazing of domestic sheep.

The case comes amid new reports that at least one bighorn sheep herd is struggling against a pneumonia outbreak.

Washington state biologists told the Lewiston Tribune (http://bit.ly/HpCa6n ) that a herd in the Hells Canyon region has lost more than 30 percent of its population in recent months.

Pneumonia hit bighorn sheep herds in the Hells Canyon area in the mid-1990s. Biologists attribute that outbreak to infected domestic sheep.

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Information from: Lewiston Tribune, http://www.lmtribune.com