Board of Sheep Commissioners

Entity: 896
Entity Type: State Government


The Utah State Board of Sheep Commissioners was created by the Utah State Legislature in 1903 alongside the office of State Sheep Inspector with the intent of creating an effective regulatory group overseeing the sizeable sheep industry in the state. The primary mission of the board was to work closely with the federal Bureau of Animal Industry "relating to the control and suppression of diseases in sheep, and to cooperate with the officers of said bureau in the enforcement of such rules and regulations". The board was also required to make a report to the governor on the state of the sheep industry in Utah in the form of an annual report before its eventual dissolution in 1917.

Biography/History Notes

While primarily serving as a regulatory board over the sheep industry in Utah, the Board of Sheep Commissioners was also responsible for working with the federal government in preventing the spread of disease among sheep herds, appointing inspectors who were responsible for inspecting sheep and supervising herd-dips when an outbreak did occur, regulating the flow of sheep herds in and out of the state, and preparing the annual report on the sheepherding industry for the governor.

Prior to administrative changes in the State Board of Sheep Commissioners enforcement of board policy was carried out by the State Sheep Inspector, designated deputies and federal sheep inspectors. Their main priority was to watch for the spread of certain ailments among sheep herds including scabies, Utah ticks and Oregon wildfire. When outbreaks did occur it was their responsibility to organize quarantines and herd dips in solutions of either lime and sulphur or sulphur and tobacco. It became the responsibility of the herd owner to pay any costs associated with the dippings and the cleaning of contaminated areas, but if they failed to then deputies were put in charge of doing it and the owner was billed by the state. After administrative changes around 1905 all of these duties were carried out by board appointed inspectors.

Initially when the board was created in 1903 it was in conjunction with the office of State Sheep Inspector. The board consisted of five members, all of whom were to be wool growers in Utah. Members were appointed by the Governor and had terms lasting two years, or until a successor was appointed and qualified. It was the duty of the board to report its doings to the Governor while the State Sheep Inspector made reports to the board. By 1907 the structure of the board had changed to some extent with the board now consisting of only three members, no two of whom could be from the same county within the state. Members were still appointed by the governor, but now his decision had to meet with consent from the State Senate. Under the new organization offices were held by board members for four years or until a successor was appointed and qualified.

Alongside the creation of the Board of Sheep Commissioners in 1903 came the office of State Sheep Inspector, who was also appointed by the Governor and had a term lasting two years, or until a successor was appointed and qualified. It was the duty of the State Sheep Inspector to make reports to the board and, in essence act as the enforcement arm for the boards decisions. The Inspector was also given the duty of selecting deputies who were brought on with board approval. With the change in administrative structure however the appointed office of State Sheep Inspector was abolished. In its place the board was given authority to appoint however many Sheep Inspectors it deemed necessary to perform duties throughout the state. The board was aided tremendously by the presence of federal inspectors who had a heavy presence in the state through 1914 due to Utah's designation as a federal sheep quarantine zone. When that designation was lifted the number of federal inspectors decreased making it more difficult for the board to effectively implement its policies throughout the Utah sheep industry.