Landowner Battles South Dakota Officials Over Bighorn Sheep

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) – For South Dakota officials, the reintroduction of bighorn sheep in the Hell Canyon region of the southwestern Black Hills is a conservation success story.

The Rapid City Journal reports the animals have been a nuisance for Dan Stearns, who lives on a ranch in the region.

The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks released 20 bighorn sheep on public land in the area in 2001. Breeding and more releases have increased their population to about 130.

Stearns says the bighorn sheep take his cattle’s food and water, damage his fences and flatten his grass and alfalfa.

The department recently offered Stearns nearly $30,000 in compensation and assistance, but he turned it down. He says he wants the bighorn sheep taken away and the department to stop forcing landowners to accommodate wildlife.

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