The Bighorn Sheep Restoration Project Status update for 10/13 to 10/27 is now available (all updates are currently available here). Like the last update this document has some discussion of the construction of utilization distributions that are described as a “three-dimensional view of an animal’s home range [that] depicts the probability of an animal using a particular location”. This is the first update with details about the planned release of more Bighorn into the Santa Catalina Mountains before the end of the year – a few interesting details:
- [AZGF] has learned [from working to increase statewide population levels from 1,100 to 5,500 since the 1950s] that one of the keys to success is to augment the founding or resident herd with subsequent translocation efforts. These augmentations help the herd establish faster, generally leading to a decreased future need for direct human intervention.
- The wilderness within the Tonto National Forest is the preferred source for Bighorn to translocate – but helicopter landings with Wilderness areas take special authorization – until a decision is reached on permission to use helicopters in the Tonto National Forest Wilderness areas the plan will be to capture bighorn sheep on the Tonto NF outside of designated wilderness and on Bureau of Land Management lands east of Quartzite.
- Last year, there was a large gallery of people that observed the release. For the welfare of the sheep, this year the release will be limited to credentialed media and a small number of guests.
There have been a number of news articles about this including:
- More Bighorn Sheep Coming to Catalina Mountains – Arizona Public Media – Vanessa Barchfield
- More bighorn sheep to be placed in Catalinas – KGUN9 – Craig Smith
- AZGF capturing, releasing more bighorn sheep in Catalinas – KVOA.com
- More bighorns being relocated to Catalinas – Arizona Daily Star – Doug Kreutz