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.
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.
Questions and Answers about the Project
Fifteenth Lamb Observed!
On March 6, 2015, an Arizona Game and Fish Department research biologist confirmed the fifteenth lamb born this season. The ewe, captured in the Plomosa Mountains in November 2014, and her newborn lamb were observed from a long distance using optics to minimize disturbance.
Prior to the observation of the 15th lamb a research biologist had observed a group of sheep with 4 lambs; 3 of which were previously unknown with a group of ewes. The group of lambs represented the 12th, 13th and 14th observed this year. The band of 10 ewes were a mix of sheep from the Plomosa and Tonto Mountains from both the 2013 and 2014 releases.
The bighorn sheep lambing season can last for several months, occurring from December through April. The welcomed additions are encouraging for the future of the herd. However they are not a guarantee that the population will increase proportionately as lamb survivorship is typically low. It is important to remember that the success of reintroduction efforts are generally determined over several years and that our most seasoned sheep have only been on the ground in the Santa Catalina Mountains for a year and a half. The continued observation of new born lambs is a good reminder for hikers and recreationists to stay on designated trails, maintain a good distance away from sheep, and to never take dogs into the Bighorn Sheep Management Area. The addition of lambs is critical to the establishment of the herd and their survival could be jeopardized by human-caused disturbance.
Learn more at www.facebook.com/CatalinaBighorns.
Project Status Updates
- Update from Feb. 26 - Mar. 11, 2015
- Update from Feb. 12-25, 2015
- Update from Jan. 29 - Feb. 11, 2015
- Update from Dec. 18-31, 2014
- Update from Dec. 4-17, 2014
- Update from Nov. 13 - Dec. 3, 2014
- Update from Oct. 27 - Nov. 12, 2014
- Update from Oct. 13-26, 2014
- Update from Sept. 29- Oct. 12, 2014
- Update from Sept. 15-28, 2014
Summary Table of Bighorn Sheep Translocation Efforts in Arizona
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
- “Bighorn sheep project needs patience but moves in right direction,” an op-ed from the Arizona Daily Star, May 8, 2014, 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)
- 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 from the Arizona Republic and azcentral.com, Dec. 27, 2013
- Catalina Bighorn Advisory Committee's op-ed column in the Arizona Daily Star, July 5, 2013
- Initial press release about the project, May 29, 2013
- View video of a desert bighorn sheep ewe in the Santa Catalina Mountains, observed by Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists.
- View video of a bighorn ram near ewes in the Santa Catalina Mountains.
- View meeting materials from the Catalina Bighorn Advisory Committee provided on Nov. 6, 2014 as a result of a public records request. The records include attendance lists, agendas, meeting minutes and informal personal notes from the meetings. View public records.