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By: Al Macias on 12/30/2011
Arizona Game and Fish is working to reintroduce Rocky Mountain Big Horn rams to the herd after the Wallow Fire.
A Rocky Mountain Big Horn ram was captured in November at the Freeport-McMoRan Mine in Morenci. It was released next day at Wildcat Point on Black River. (Photos courtesy Arizona Game and Fish)
It’s been seven months since an untended camp site sparked the state’s largest wildfire in state history. It will be decades before the forests grow back. KJZZ’s Al Macias reports how Mother Nature and man are working to help the wildlife.
AL MACIAS: The Wallow Fire burned more than a half million acres in eastern Arizona and New Mexico before it was contained in early July. After the fire, a survey showed that several Rocky Mountain Big Horn rams died in the blaze. It also found around 50 ewes and lambs had survived. Wildlife experts worried that without enough rams in the mix, the herd could disappear. Bruce Sitko says an Arizona Game and Fish team found an answer 100 miles away near Morenci.
BRUCE SITKO: They were able to subdue five rams, put some tracking collars on them and brought them up to the Wildcat Point area of the Black River and released them the next day in the vicinity of these 50 plus ewes and lambs.
AL MACIAS: Sitko says they’ll have to wait until spring to see if the matchmaking worked. Meanwhile he says the monsoon rains right after the fire jump started natural grasses and other growth for elk and deer.
BRUCE SITKO: Basically it was like an ice cream parlor to these animals that forage on that type of food so they pretty much disbursed throughout the landscape and did very well.
AL MACIAS: Sitko says winter snows will provide runoff that will help to flush the ash and soot from streams and lakes that’s good for the animals and fish.