Mountain lions kill three bighorn ewes in Catalina Mountains
Two Arizona mountain lions are dead after killing three bighorn sheep in the Catalina Mountains this month. Mark Hart of the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) confirmed that two mountain lions had been killed by subcontracted hunters, but one mountain lion remained on the lam. AGFD have been rebuilding the Catalina Mountain bighorn sheep herds; the mountain lions managed to kill three ewes, which is a major blow to bighorn recovery.
This isn’t the first time this has happened. In fact, as goHUNT previously reported, mountain lions attacked ewes in March. Officials managed to track down one of the predators and eliminate it; the other could have been involved with this month’s attacks.
It’s not difficult to track a mountain lion after it’s made a kill. Hart says that lions usually stick around their prey and told the Arizona Daily Star, “As lions often do, it remained in proximity to the remains of the sheep. Lions don’t consume their prey in one feeding.”
Subcontractors are able to use dogs which are illegal for public use. Hart says the use of dogs makes the tracking efficient and a necessity when acting quickly to curb further attacks. Six mountain lions have been killed since 2013 for their involvement with bighorn sheep deaths. The current bighorn sheep tally holds steady at about 85 sheep.
Opponents of the mountain lion killings have voiced their concern, but Hart says that action is necessary.
“It’s virtually impossible to reestablish bighorn sheep and pronghorn antelope populations without limited predator management,” says Hart. “This is very discriminate compared to other methods. We only are seeking lions that kill the sheep.”