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    Wild sheep won’t be introduced near Jeffrey City until area ranchers are ‘comfortable,’ Game and Fish says

    Wyoming Game and Fish Department director Brian Nesvik says he won’t allow bighorn sheep to be reintroduced to the Sweetwater Rocks area near Jeffrey City until local cattle ranchers are “comfortable” with the plan.

    The proposal caused “a lot of concern” among local producers who worried that their grazing permits would be “altered in the name of bighorn sheep,” Nesvik told the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee during a meeting this month, referring specifically to discussions he’s had with Fremont County ranchers.

    “There are concerns (that) the Bureau of Land Management … would use wild sheep as a talisman towards limiting grazing,” Nesvik said.

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    “I’ve made a commitment to those producers that, until we can find some legal assurances for them, that we wouldn’t move this (proposal) to the next step.”

    He acknowledged that “a lot of stakeholders” involved in the project are “still very interested in moving (it) forward” – including the local landowner who initially brought the proposal to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission – “so the discussion continues.”

    In fact, Nesvik said, “we just had (a) working group meeting between all the involved parties in Lander here in late December.”

    That meeting did not produce any “final decisions on a way to get that (project) done,” however, Nesvik said, predicting that “it’s going to take some kind of federal action before any of those (producers) can even come close to feeling comfortable with it.”

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