Category Archives: Land Issues

Urgent Message from President Curtis King

ATTENTION: To all current NAPgA and non-current NAPgA members, and all goat packing enthusiasts.

AN URGENT message from the President.

First, I would like to thank everyone that responded in writing to the comments on the ROD and EIS pertaining to the use of pack goats on the Shoshone NF in Wyoming during the open comments period. As most of you are already aware NAPgA has been in a long- standing battle over an illegal pack goat ban on the Shoshone National Forest. During this lengthy process NAPgA won a lawsuit against the Shoshone National Forest in 2016 when Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled in our favor. The Forest Service was ordered to go back to the drawing board, meet with NAPgA and write up a new “Risk Analysis of Disease Transmission” and “Environmental Impact Statement”.

During the summer of 2017, NAPgA representatives and our attorney Andrew Irvine met with The Shoshone NF, WY Department of Game and Fish, The Wild Sheep Foundation and The WSF Wyoming sheep working group in several pivotal meetings in Lander WY that resulted in a compromise that both sides could live with. NAPgA agreed to a pack goat closure in six critical core sheep habitat areas within the Shoshone with a possible corridor going around these core areas. The compromise was agreed to as most of the northern core areas are Grizzly Bear territory and were NOT COMMONLY USED AREAS by goat packers in Wyoming and nearby states.

The comments period has closed and the Regional Forester Brian Ferebee for the Shoshone National Forest has reached a decision. The plan calls for the closure of pack goats within the six described core Bighorn Sheep Habitat areas that are home to the most pristine Bighorn Sheep herds on the continent. They cannot be replaced.

The surrounding areas as well as the remainder of the Shoshone National Forest will remain open to goat packing with the requirement of a use permit and compliance of BMP’s Best Management Practices that will be issued by the Forest Service. NAPgA has asked to be involved in developing what the Permit process will look like and our request has been accepted.

NAPgA recently filed an objection to some of the language in the RADT, SDEIS plan during the objection process. NAPgA did not object to the forest plan. NAPgA did however object to a good portion of the language in the plan as it pertains to

the science. The best available science and the science referred to in the plan does not support that our pack goats are dangerous or pose any kind of a disease transmission risk to Bighorn Sheep. Andrew Irvine NAPgA’s very talented attorney wrote our objection letter to the forest service. The objection document is an absolute “masterpiece” and I encourage all of you to read and review it. The document is posted for your viewing located on the NAPgA website at NAPgA.org

http://www.napga.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Andy-Irvine-Comments.pdf

Folks, we are about enter the most critical and pivotal meeting that will most likely ever happen as it relates to your rights to use pack goats on public lands now and in the future. What happens in this meeting and in the objection process will pave the way for what happens with goat packing in the future with other forests and forest plans pertaining to pack goats. We have the summit in sight. Its within our grasp. We need your support to reach the top and stake our flag.

NAPgA has depleted most of our finances getting this far with so many legal fees that come along with such a legal battle in our continuing fight to keep public lands open to goat packing. I feel it is critical to our cause to have Andy present in this next objection meeting with the forest service. We anticipate that the next objection process meeting will take place in mid to late April of this year in Cody Wyoming. The cost for our legal services to get Andy and our objection letter to this next critical meeting will be approximately $1800 dollars. Without depleting our savings, we are about $1200 short of this amount. Your president and your board members strongly feel that that this is our last chance and final push to see all anecdotal and non-scientific references to pack goat disease transmission removed from these official government documents. The falsehoods need to stop. Any restrictions must be based on documented, factual research and peer-reviewed science, not hearsay, anecdotes and conjecture.

If you would like to see NAPgA continue this legal battle with the Shoshone, please consider donating to help us send Andy to the objection meeting in Cody. No amount is too small. If you know any pack goat enthusiast who have not yet renewed their memberships, please contact them and encourage them to join. There is strength in numbers and the membership fees go a long way toward helping pay these expenses. With that being said, your president is now “passing the hat” to all of you. We currently have 157 current members. If I can ask for just $10.00 from each member we can raise enough money to cover this expense by late April. Please help us obtain a victory for goat packing. We can do this and we will.

Donations can be made here: Donate | NAPgA
Here is the link for membership sign-ups: http://www.napga.org/membership/join-napga/

Anyone can make a donation by either visiting our website using the PayPal, or send a check to:

NAPgA Treasurer
13 Norwood Pl.
Boise, ID 83716

Thank you for your continued support and “Long Live The Pack Goat”.
Curtis King
President, North American Pack Goat Association

Andy Irvine’s Response to Shoshone RADT and EIS

NAPgA’s lawyer, Andy Irvine, recently put together a wonderful response to the Shoshone NF Risk of Disease Transmission and Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Study, which both contained faulty science to justify banning packgoats from Bighorn Sheep territory. Every issue brought up in the Shoshone documents is addressed in detail. This is a long document but well worth the read. This is one of the things NAPgA’s money pays for, and the comments may well be applied to similar situations as they arise in other areas. Click the link below to access the full document.

Andy Irvine Comments

Potential Packgoat Ban in White Clouds Area, Idaho

Once again we stand to lose even more access to the wilderness in the new Idaho Land Use Plans being considered as we speak.
There is much in the Draft version of these plans to be of concern, but the primary information that needs to be responded to is in the EA’s for each of these plans. One is called the Hemingway-Boulders plan (HBWC), and the other the Jim McClure-Jerry Peaks plan (JMJP). BOTH must be responded to. The Deadline for Comment is November 26, 2017. 

The documents I have attached outline the problems that I see in each of these plans. However, there is one paragraph in each of the Environmental Assessments that is completely wrong in its entirety. It is found on Page 48 of the HBWC plan, and Page 46 of the JMJP plan. Our legal advisor, when presented with this paragraph noted, ‘There isn’t anything in this paragraph that is correct!’

This paragraph can be refuted in its entirety, and therefore needs to be the focus of your comments.

PLEASE, read over the attached document, and/or download the actual plans, and send in your comments as soon as possible. Even if you never think you will access or want to access this section of the white cloud wilderness, we desperately need your comments to add weight to what I will be sending.

Read Larry Robinson’s “Problems with Idaho Land Use Plans”



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Comments for the Hemingway-Boulders need to be sent to:

Written comments must be submitted to the responsible officer:

• Send an email to: comments-intermtn-sawtooth-nra@fs.fed.us. Please indicate “Wilderness Plan” in the subject line. Electronic comments must be submitted as an e-mail message, plain text (.txt), rich text format (.rtf), or Word document (.docx).

  • Send a hardcopy letter to Sawtooth National Forest, 2647 Kimberly Road East, Twin Falls, Idaho 83301. For those submitting hand-delivered comments, business hours for the Sawtooth National Forest Supervisor’s Office are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.
  • Comments may also be submitted by fax to (208) 737-3236. Include your mailing address and phone number.

Comments for the Jim McClure-Jerry Peaks need to be sent to:

Written comments must be submitted to the responsible officer:

  • Send an email to: comments-intermtn-salmon-challis-middlefork@fs.fed.us. Please indicate “Wilderness Plan” in the subject line. Electronic comments must be submitted in a format such as an e-mail message, plain text (.txt), rich text format (.rtf), and Word (.docx).
  • Send a hardcopy letter to: Salmon-Challis National Forest, Attn: Wilderness Plan; 1206 S. Challis Street, Salmon, ID 83467. The office business hours for those submitting hand- delivered comments are: 8:00 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.
  • Comments may also be submitted by FAX to 208-879-4198. Include your mailing address and phone number.

August 10 Deadline for Shoshone Wilderness Plan Comments–YOUR Help Needed!

URGENT! YOU have the opportunity to comment on the use of domestic sheep, goats and pack goats in the Shoshone National Forest.

The comment deadline of August 10th is fast approaching!

The outcome of the final decision by the Shoshone National Forest regarding pack goat use will very likely have a domino effect on how other National Forests address pack goat use.

The Shoshone National Forest has prepared a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) for Use of Domestic Sheep, Goats, and Pack Goats, which is a Supplement to the Shoshone National Forest Plan, which was revised in May of 2015.

The Shoshone National Forest proposes to limit areas where domestic sheep allotments are stocked and restrict the use of domestic goats and pack goats on the Forest to reduce the risk of disease transmission to bighorn sheep.

Follow the links to the documents below.  Neither is extremely long and you will find plenty to comment on regarding the possibility of disease transmission from pack goats to big horn sheep.  The new best science available is not being used in these documents!

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOC…541051.pdf

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOC…541057.pdf

After reading these two documents please submit your comments.  Alternative #3 is NAPgA’s preferred alternative.  It permits pack goat use in the Shoshone National Forest with the least amount of risk for the Bighorn Sheep.

The 2016 GOAT MOVI STUDY CONDUCTED BY DR. MAGGIE HIGHLAND, a Veterinary Medical Officer and Researcher with the USDA-ARS-Animal Disease Research Unit, in collaboration with USDA-APHIS personnel is the most current best science available regarding the possibility of disease transmission from pack goats to Bighorn Sheep.

From spring through fall of 2016, 576 goats (419 packgoats and 157 housed on premises with packgoats), from 83 premises located in 13 states, were sampled 3 times at 4 week minimum intervals to test for nasal presence/shedding of Movi. Nasal swab samples were collected in duplicate at each time point, with one nasal swab from each sample collection being tested in Dr. Highland’s laboratory and the second swab from the first sample collection being tested in an independent laboratory. Repeat nasal swab sampling of the goats in this study has confirmed the presence of Movi on just 5 of the 83 premises (6% of premises).  Premises that had Movi detected in any of the goats had between 7 to ≥15 goats present on the premises.  Movi was confirmed to be present on the nasal swabs collected from 30 of the 576 goats tested; this means 94.8% of the goats tested had NO Movi detected on nasal swab samples. Of the 30 total confirmed Movi positive goats, 27 (or 90%) of them were ≤1 year of age (23 of them were <5 months).

In summary, not only does the behavior and handling of pack goats drastically decrease the risk of a domestic pack goat coming into contact with a bighorn sheep, it would seem highly improbable based on this large scale study that a domestic pack goat would even be shedding Movi should such an unlikely contact occur.

Comments on the SDEIS must be submitted via mail, fax, or in person (Monday through Friday, 8AM – 4:30 PM, excluding holidays) to:

Casey Mc Quiston, Resource Staff Officer
Shoshone National Forest
808 Meadowlane Avenue
Cody, WY  82414
Fax: (307) 578-5112

Electronic comments including attachments may be submitted by email in Word format (.doc), portable document format (.pdf), rich text format (.rtf), text (.txt), and hypertext markup language (.html) may be sent to: comments-rocky-mountain-shoshone@fs.fed.us

If you’re not sure what to say or how to say it, we have a form letter that you may use as a guide. We encourage you to rephrase it into your own words and add any further concerns of your own. Please remember to be courteous and professional in your wording.
Form Letter:  http://www.napga.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Shoshone-Form-Letter.pdf

Articles about NAPgA’s Court Win

Casper Star Tribune – “Judge holds Forest Service in contempt over Wyoming goat and sheep ban”

Tribune_Photo
An Idaho federal judge found the U.S. Forest Service in contempt of court Tuesday, concluding the Forest Service used a flawed study as the basis to ban domestic sheep and goats from some of its lands…. full article.

Jackson Hole News & Guide – “Goatpackers Score Win Over Shoshone”

High-ranking federal officials are being held in contempt of court for using invalidated reports to support a Shoshone National Forest prohibition against packgoats…. full article.

Capital Press – “Idaho Judge Holds Forest Service, Top Leaders in Contempt”

BOISE — An Idaho federal judge has held U.S. Forest Service Director Tom Tidwell, his agency and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in contempt of court for ignoring his 2009 order against heeding conclusions of a questionable report on disease transmission from domestic sheep to wild bighorn sheep…. full article.

NAPgA Wins Important Court Battle

Secretary of Agriculture and Chief of the Forest Service Held in Contempt of Court for Use of Illegal Reports on Disease Transmission from Livestock to Bighorn Sheep

Article by Andy Irvine

On February 23, 2016, Chief Judge B. Lynn WiRufus, my packgoat, after climbing 4000' and covering 9 miles of trail. Ben Lomond Peak is the location.nmill of the United States District Court for the District of Idaho held the Secretary of Agriculture and Chief of the United States Forest Service (“Forest Service”) in contempt of court for relying on two illegal reports on disease transmission from livestock to bighorn sheep. The reports were used in the Shoshone National Forest’s recent Land Management Plan (LMP) revision to ban domestic sheep and goats from the Shoshone. The Shoshone National Forest covers nearly 2.5 million acres in northwest Wyoming….

 Click here to read the complete article!

 

PACKGOAT RESEARCH Needs Your Participation

Finn_EarsTo all concerned citizens of the packgoat community: please read the following summary of an ADRU* research project to screen packgoats throughout the United States for pathogens and how you can participate. For packgoats it involves 3 serial nasal swabs and one blood test.

We strongly believe that without packgoat participation in this ADRU project we will continue to lose our access with packgoats on Public Lands.There is little hope without your participation.

Purpose: Collect nasal and eye swabs from packgoats across the United States to screen for presence of Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae and agents associated with “pink eye”.

Justification: Packgoat use on public lands defined as bighorn sheep habitat is being prohibited across the Western United States.  This prohibition is based on the potential that packgoats can carry a primary bacterial agent associated with bighorn sheep pneumonia, and pinkeye. In order to understand the prevalence and distribution of the bacteria of concern as well as to get a significant number of packgoats tested, NAPgA request packgoat owners from across the United States participate.  While this may not directly impact packgoat owners outside of bighorn sheep habitat, the implications of placing limitations on public land use without justification impacts us all by limiting the rights of individuals.  Beyond that, identifying carrier goats and distribution of the pathogens M. ovipneumoniae (Movi), and Chlamydia spp. (pink eye), may lead to future investigations into potential ways to clear reservoir goats of these pathogens.

There are two suggested protocols:
1.     The first is for packgoat owners that use or live in the Western US where bighorn sheep live. This involves 3 consecutive monthly nasal swabs, one blood test, and one eye swab2.     The second protocol is for packgoats outside of, or never brought into, states that are home to bighorn sheep. This involves a single point nasal swabs, eye swab, and blood test.

Please Note: All costs will be covered by ADRU to perform this prevalence/surveillance study, including veterinary charges (if applicable), supplies, shipping, and testing. All we need at this point are names, address, and number of goats. For questions see attached documents, contact Charlie Jennings, NAPgA President 435-764-1111, or vigilguy@gmail.com . To request copies of sample research documents or to participate email Nancy Clough, NAPgA Member at idahonancy@roadrunner.com  208-699-2702

What will the outcome be if this project goes forward?
The end goal will be to publish this M. ovipneumoniae prevalence data in a peer-reviewed journal (possible venues: JAVMA or Small Ruminant Research). This is a good way to not only compile our packgoat data, but to also make it accessible and referenceable for the US Forest Service Land Management Revision Teams who are making decisions to deny access to packgoats on public lands.
*Animal Disease Research Unit-ARS-USDA (Pullman, WA)

Important Links:
– Owner Information, Survey, and Goat ID form
– Sample Consent Form for Packgoat Participants
– Frequently Asked Questions
– PDF Download of Above Posted Overview

Blue Mountains Forest Plan Meeting Tues. 11/10

44Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision to discuss whether or not to allow packgoats. Please attend if you can!

Tues., Nov. 10, 2015
11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
(doors open at 10:30)
Technical Pack Goat Meeting
Blue Mtns. National Forests
Pendleton Convention Center
1601 Westgate
Pendleton, Oregon 97801

THIS MEETING WILL ONLY BE A DISCUSSION ABOUT PACKGOATS!  IT’S OUR CHANCE TO SIT DOWN AND DISCUSS THE ISSUES WITHOUT INTERRUPTIONS FROM OTHER INTERESTED GROUPS.

Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision Documents:  http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/wallowa-whitman/landmanagement/planning/?cid=stelprd3792957