Bighorn sheep dying during relocation effort - Dallas News |

Bighorn sheep dying during relocation effort

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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -

State wildlife officials addressed critics of its sheep-relocation project Friday, saying the effort could still prove successful despite the deaths of more than a dozen bighorns north of Tucson.
Animal welfare advocates have been divided over the transplanting last November of 31 bighorns east from the Yuma area to the Santa Catalina Mountains.
Ben Brochu, an Arizona Game and Fish wildlife manager involved in the project, says the 15 sheep deaths were a surprise.
Friends of Wild Animals, a coalition of local citizens, joined with Supporting & Promoting Ethics for the Animal Kingdom in calling for an end to the project. Both groups plan to protest the issue outside an Arizona Game and Fish Commission meeting Saturday.
Friends of Wild Animals spokesman Ben Pachano says trying to boost populations doesn't justify putting the sheep in a vulnerable position or killing predatory mountain lions. He also disagreed with supporters' assessment that the agency's removal of three mountain lions did little overall damage to the mountain lion population.

Game and Fish spokesman Mark Hart says a handful of mountain lions could easily decimate the entire herd in a year. He says the agency is obligated to remove them, and that could remain the strategy for the next two years.

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