About 30 bighorn sheep from Western Arizona are slated to be moved to the Catalina Mountains next month to rebuild a herd that died out there, and details of the project will be presented at a public information meeting today.
The meeting — set for 6:30 p.m. at Loews Ventana Canyon resort, 7000 N. Resort Drive — will be conducted by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the Coronado National Forest and an advisory committee from wildlife and environmental groups.
Mark Hart, spokesman for the Game and Fish Department, said plans call for capturing bighorns on the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground northeast of Yuma on Nov. 16 and trucking them to the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson — possibly on the same day.
“But when you’re working with wildlife, you can’t be assured that everything will go as planned,” Hart said. Capturing and transporting the sheep for release at Catalina State Park north of Tucson could require a period of time from Nov. 16 to 18, or possibly longer, he said.
The 30 sheep will be the first of about 100 to be reintroduced into the Catalinas over the next two years. They are intended to help re-establish a herd that died out in the range in the late 1990s.
Wildlife officers plan to shoot nets from a helicopter to ensnare the sheep, which then will be airlifted to a staging area. There, the animals will be prepared for transport by truck to Catalina State Park.
“We’ve used these techniques successfully in Arizona in the past,” Hart said. “It takes skill and experience, which we have.”