Game and Fish prepares to defend bighorns with force

June 10, 2013

Arizona Game and Fish is prepared to kill mountain lions in the Catalina Mountains – if the animals kill bighorn sheep first. The department is trying to protect its reintroduction of bighorns outside Tucson.

Game and Fish calls it “administrative removal,” and it is what faces mountain lions that prey on the herd of 30 bighorn sheep soon to be moved into the Catalinas.

Spokesman Mike Hart said the lions like to eat white-tale dear but sometimes get a taste for sheep. He said all the bighorns will be outfitted with GPS units that will alert the department immediately if one has been killed. Then a forensic team will determine whether a mountain lion was the culprit.

“Typically, a mountain lion will not leave the area where it has taken some prey for quite a while,” Hart said. “It will consume part of it, cover it up and remain nearby for many hours until that carcass is consumed.”

Hart said bighorns used to roam the area until the late 1990s, when they disappeared. He stresses Game and Fish thinks both the lions and the bighorns are valuable species in the Catalina Mountains.

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