Bighorn lambs will be monitored without GPS collars - Tucson News Now

Bighorn lambs will be monitored without GPS collars

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The first baby bighorns were spotted in the Catalina Mountains, according to Arizona Game and Fish.

The bighorn lambs do not have GPS collars, so officials will only monitor them through observation. They won't really know if the baby bighorns survive until October when they will survey the area with helicopters.

Officials believe the bighorn lambs are about a month old. When bighorns are first born, the mother will keep them in rough terrain to keep them safe. That is probably why we are just getting a glimpse of these little guys.

Bighorn sheep are unique in that they only give birth to one lamb a year. Officials behind the project say the sight of the baby bighorns is encouraging.

"We're very excited about the new sighting of the two different lambs. When we put the sheep out there the majority of the adult were pregnant," Ben Borchu, a wildlife manager with Game and Fish.

"It is too early to say this isn't a success. I think with the addition of the two lambs and potentially many more, we are going in the right direction," says Joe Sheehey, a member of the Catalina Bighorn Advisory Committee.

They were first seen in the Santa Catalina Pusch Ridge Wilderness area last week. AZ Game and Fish officials report the two healthy lambs were seen from a distance by an AZ Game and Fish biologist, sticking close to their mothers – ewes that were among the 31 bighorn sheep released in November, 2013.

Volunteers and trailhead notices are being used to remind hikers of the potential adverse impacts to the sheep caused by dogs or by hiking more than 400 feet off-trail within the bighorn sheep recovery area during lambing season. For additional information, please visit the U.S. Forest Service webpage at www.fs.usda.gov/coronado/.

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