WWGA focused on land policies
Federal natural resource management should be based on a set of principles which includes multiple use, protection of property rights, local community needs, the role domestic livestock can play in a healthy environment and sound science, according to a new policy adopted by the Wyoming Wool Growers Association (WWGA).
Federal managers should include local governments and private property owners in decision-making processes and recognize the importance of human and economic health, as well as environmental health.
WWGA members gathered to lay out policy positions for the organization at its recent winter meeting in Casper. Although the Biden administration’s 30×30 Plan to protect 30 percent of the nation’s land and water by 2030 was discussed at the meeting – with scant details available about how the plan will be implemented – the membership did not directly address the issue, instead focusing on other aspects of land management.
Noting that governments – from local to federal – already control more than half the land in Wyoming, WWGA members voted to adopt a policy supporting no-net-loss of ownership or control of private lands in the state. When it comes to federal grazing permits, WWGA’s new policy is opposed to federal laws or proposals allowing permit buyouts which would retire grazing permits rather than retaining vacant allotments and making them available for grazing by other permittees.
This is similar to a policy enacted by the Colorado Wool Growers Association members, which faces many of the same public lands issues as their Wyoming neighbors.
Policy for other issues
The controversy over the risk of disease transmission from domestic sheep to their wild counterparts is addressed in a new WWGA policy supporting scientific research on the multi-causal nature of disease in Bighorn sheep, to sort out the role of factors such as nutrition and mineral deficiencies, predation and other stressors that impact Bighorn populations.
WWGA Executive Director Amy Hendrickson explained the importance of the membership defining the organization’s official stance on a range of issues to provide staff with overall guidance as matters arise during the year. She said it can be difficult to anticipate what topics may surface during legislative sessions, and whether the organization will support or oppose a specific piece of legislation often cannot be determined beforehand, but she usually starts from the foundation of “no.”
WWGA Member Brad Boner agreed, noting that “the devil is in the details” of any particular bill, and generally, “No is the place to start.”
Other new WWGA policies support the humane care and handling of sheep, as well as the necessity of routine shearing using professional techniques designed for the safety and well-being of the animals, and the use of both foreign and domestic workers involved in the harvesting of wool.
The membership voted to support both traditional methods of predator control such as leghold traps and predator toxicants such as those used in M-44s, aerial gunning, as well as research and development of new technologies to reduce depredation.
Hendrickson said the membership gathering to discuss and vote on policy positions is planned as an annual event at the organization’s winter meeting, and members are welcome to propose new position statements for debate at those sessions.
Cat Urbigkit is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and also serves on the WWGA board of directors. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.