BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recognizing a connection between bighorn sheep die-offs and diseases transmitted by domestic sheep could have far-reaching ramifications on federal grazing allotments in the West.

The ruling earlier this month against domestic sheep producers upheld a lower court ruling in Idaho supporting a U.S. Forest Service decision to close grazing allotments to protect bighorns. Laurie Rule of Advocates for the West says it's the first time a U.S. circuit court has ruled on disease transmission between the species and the decision could guide federal agencies or be used in future lawsuits.

The Idaho Wool Growers Association sued in 2012 contending the Forest Service illegally shut down 70 percent of sheep grazing in the Payette National Forest in western Idaho.