Arizona Tries To Secure Frail Bighorn Sheep Population By Killing Preying Mountain Lions

December 05, 2013

Bighorn sheep and the mountain lions who prey on them are being killed in the mountains north of Tucson after a reintroduction program of the sheep started last week.

The bighorns were brought in a week ago as part of an effort by Arizona Game and Fish to restore bighorn sheep to the Catalina Mountains. Then, this weekend, the mountain lions started hunting them.

Spokesman Mark Hart said that wasn’t unexpected.

"We’ve always been upfront about the necessity of managing the bighorn population in the Santa Catalinas if we are to reestablish the bighorn sheep there," he said late Tuesday.

He said that for now the remaining 29 bighorn sheep brought to the mountains would not survive without also killing any mountain lions that prey on them except for female mountain lions with cubs.

The first mountain lion was shot and killed Saturday after approaching the officer inspecting a dead bighorn.