Bighorn sheep and mountain lions are dying in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson as a result of a "transplant" of 31 sheep into the range last month.
"I'm confirming that there were two sheep mortalities and two mountain lions lethally removed in the Catalina Mountains this weekend," said Mark Hart, spokesman for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. "But I"m declining comment on further details pending a meeting at 6 p.m. tonight at the Arizona Game and Fish Department offices in Tucson."
Officers of the Game and Fish Department, using helicopters and net guns, captured the 31 bighorns in mountains near Yuma on Nov. 16 and 17. The animals were released into the Catalina Mountains from Catalina State Park north of Tucson on Nov. 18.
Hart declined to confirm reports that the two mountain lions were shot by marksmen working with the department because it was determined that the lions had killed sheep.
"We have no further comments pending the meeting," Hart said.
Questions yet to be answered by the wildlife officials include what led to the shooting of the mountain lions and what caused officers to conclude that they were "guilty" of killing the bighorns.
Numerous Tucson residents have written letters and contacted the Arizona Daily Star to decry the transplant plan and the likely killing of mountain lions for doing what predators do — preying on animals such as bighorns.
Read more in tomorrow's Star