TUCSON, AZ (TNN) – Big horn sheep disappeared from the Santa Catalinas more than a decade ago. But they will return in two months.
The Arizona Department of Game and Fish is reintroducing 30 big horn sheep in November. The department will release them in Catalina State Park so that the herd can go up the Pusch Ridge Wilderness. Groups of 30 will be released in the two following years in hopes of creating a population of 100.
The three-year effort will cost $600,000; however, Game and Fish said that none of those funds are taxpayer money. The cost is covered by sportsman fees and donations. Those involved consider the reintroduction as an important move for a more diverse wildlife population.
Some of those learning about the effort Thursday night were hopeful that the effort would succeed while others had concerns.
"It was lovely to have them there. But a lot of things have changed, and it's a natural consequence in different areas for populations to cease to exist for a variety of reasons and a try and recreate something that's no longer there may not be good," said Vickie Pitts, who lives near Catalina State Park.
"They think not only does it have intrinsic value but that is not inordinately cruel to try because they favor a holistic approach to that mountain range and having everything up there that nature had up there before man came along," AZ Game and Fish spokesman Mark Hart said about the efforts of conservation groups along with the department.