Ah, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, up to their old tricks of "managing" wildlife in order to increase their game tag revenue. That is, increasing wildlife populations so that they can later be hunted. By whatever means necessary, or something like that.
Here's the deal: AGFD and the Arizona Bighorn Sheep Society get boners for dead animals. So, in the interest of restoration (i.e. putting more sheep in more places to restore hunting opportunities), they developed a plan to put bighorn sheep back in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. And they got buy in from a bunch of enviros to help make it look like a legitimate restoration project. Gosh, they even let them open the cage doors and let the terrified and collared sheep loose, a wonderful feel-good photo op.
And then, oh shit.
One of the bighorn sheep released into the wild in the Santa Catalina Mountains has been found dead.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department said Friday the dead ram was discovered Wednesday. Thirty-one of the bighorns were released in the mountains Nov. 18 after being captured in the Yuma area.And then, more shit:
Bighorn sheep and mountain lions are dying in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson as a result of a "transplant" of 31 sheep into the range last month.
"I'm confirming that there were two sheep mortalities and two mountain lions lethally removed in the Catalina Mountains this weekend," said Mark Hart, spokesman for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.It turns out that to restore bighorns to be killed at some later date you need to kill mountain lions too. And apparently, everyone knew that this was part of the plan all along, expected "collateral damage" of the project.
But why is anyone the least bit surprised? AGFD has been game farming bighorn in the Kofas for years, killing lions left and right, supplementing water sources (even in Wilderness), and boosting the populations there to transport them to other parts of the state. DL covered this in 2007, and it had been going on long before that. Why anyone thought the Catalina effort would be an different is the real mystery.
When all you have is a rifle, everything looks like a target.