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Catalina Bighorn Sheep Reintroduction Project


This web page includes joint updates from the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Catalina Bighorn Advisory Committee on the Catalina Bighorn Sheep Reintroduction Project.

Project Goal

The goal of the project is to establish a self-sustaining population of bighorn sheep in the Catalina Mountains that coexists with resident predators without administrative intervention. Bighorn sheep are being reintroduced because the Catalina Mountains are a part of their historical range; the project is trying to restore them to a natural ecosystem that they were an important part of for thousands of years. As long as one of its key pieces—bighorn sheep--is missing, the ecosystem is in some ways incomplete.

Public records provided – materials from meetings of the Catalina Bighorn Sheep Reintroduction Project Advisory Committee
(Posted Nov. 6, 2014)

Below is a link to a page with attendance lists, agendas, meeting minutes and informal personal notes from meetings of the Catalina Bighorn Sheep Reintroduction Project Advisory Committee. These materials were provided in response to a recently fulfilled public records request. The informal personal notes were written by the Advisory Committee’s liaison from the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The Department is making all these documents available in their entirety in the interest of full public disclosure for any member of the public to access.

Questions and Answers about the Project

View FAQs

Recent Events

  • On December 7, 2014, Arizona Game and Fish Department personnel confirmed the mortality of a yearling ewe, ID number 435, transplanted to the Catalina Mountains from the Plomosa Mountains on November 21, 2014.  The mortality was caused by a mountain lion and the lion has not been located.

  • On November 20, 2014, 17 bighorn sheep were captured in the Plomosa Mountains east of Quartzite.   The seventeen sheep were composed of 12 ewes (females) and 5 rams (males).  One of the rams died shortly after being captured and the cause of death is under investigation.  The 16 remaining sheep were then transported to the Tucson area for release. 

  • On November 19, 2014 14 bighorn sheep were captured in the Canyon Lake Area on Tonto National Forest lands.  The fourteen sheep were composed of 11 ewes (females) and 3 rams (males) that were then transported to the Tucson area for release.  During capture operations every effort is made to ensure the health of the animals however there are commonly losses due to trauma or stress related factors.  Although great care was taken during this capture we sadly lost two rams. One of the rams broke a leg and was euthanized while the second died in the helicopter during transport from the field to the processing station presumably due to a stress related event.       

  • There was a bighorn sheep mortality on or around Nov. 11. A necropsy on the ewe indicated no obvious signs of trauma, eliminating that a predator (mountain lion, bear, coyote) was the cause of death.The cause of death is unknown at this time, and Arizona Game and Fish continues to investigate. More details in the latest Project Status Update below.

  • The Arizona Game and Fish Department plans to capture bighorn sheep in areas east of Quartzite on Bureau of Land Management lands and/or the Tonto National Forest for release in the Catalina Mountains the third week of November.

  • View recent (October 2014) video of a desert bighorn sheep ewe in the Santa Catalina Mountains, observed by Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists.

  • New video footage of bighorn ram near ewes in the Santa Catalina. View video

  • Read the op-ed piece, “Bighorn sheep project needs patience but moves in right direction,” posted on the Arizona Daily Star’s website (May 8, 2014). The article was written by three members of the Catalina Bighorn Advisory Committee (Randy Serraglio from the Center for Biological Diversity; Mike Quigley of The Wilderness Society; and Brian Dolan of the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society) and points out that worthwhile wildlife restoration projects are challenging and require patience. This adaptive management project has been making optimistic strides but will continue to be evaluated through an adaptive management process.

See more photos and videos on Facebook.

Project Status Updates

Summary Table of Bighorn Sheep Translocation Efforts in Arizona
Click here
to see a table of bighorn sheep translocation efforts in Arizona, showing repatriation areas, translocation years, number of bighorn sheep moved, and time elapsed until each population was considered established.

Catalina Bighorn Advisory Committee

Visit the Committee’s website

Additional Information

Forest Service updates bighorn sheep management area map; Restrictions remain in effect (Forest Service news release from Jan. 24, 2014)

Game and Fish Director Larry Voyles’ op-ed column in the Arizona Republic and on, Dec. 27, 2013

Advisory Committee's op-ed column in the Arizona Daily Star, July 5, 2013

Initial press release about the project, May 29, 2013

You can also learn more by visiting Facebook at!/CatalinaBighorns





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