March 3, 2011 - Prior to the mid-1800s, bighorn sheep were abundant throughout the West, with numbers estimated at 1.5 to 2 million. Large declines occurred because of overharvest, habitat loss, competition for forage, and disease transmission from domestic sheep that grazed in bighorn sheep habitat. Today, bighorn populations are less than 30% of historic levels. In March of 2010, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) joined with partners in Idaho including the Nez Perce tribe and the Idaho Wildlife Federation to provide comments to the Payette National Forest (PNF) as it prepared an update to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement regarding the effects of domestic sheep grazing on bighorn habitat. As a result, the Forest Service announced their decision to close much of Payette National Forest to domestic sheep grazing where conflicts exist.