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Feb 7, 2014 5:46 PM

9th Bighorn found dead in Catalinas

TUCSON - A ninth bighorn sheep has been found in the Catalina Mountains.

Arizona Game and Fish says the adult ewe was found on Jan. 31 in the Pusch Ridge wilderness. The ewe was pregnant at the time, Game and Fish spokesman Mark Hart said in a release.

The ewe was killed by a predator, although it wasn't clear what type.

"The evidence indicates that a cat, perhaps a young mountain lion or a bobcat was
likely involved, but due to rains overnight, investigators failed to find fresh tracks or a trail," Hart said.

Game and Fish said the predator did not return to the sheep to feed again so that animal was not "removed." Game and Fish have been tracking and killing mountain lions who they believe to be preying upon the transplanted bighorns. Hart says it's an attempt by Game and Fish to restore the once thriving population of bighorn sheep in the Catalinas.

The death is the ninth so far since the release of 31 bighorns into the Catalinas. Eight of those death were from predators.

Of the 31 bighorn sheep, 30 were fitted with GPS collars that regularly sends back location data to Game and Fish officials.

Hart says that as of Feb. 2, 21 of the 30 collared sheep were known to be alive.

Hart cited challenges with interpreting the location data sent by the collars.

The technology strapped around the sheep's neck requires an up link to a GPS satellite, which is hindered by the sheep's environment.

Cliff faces, canyon walls and otherwise rugged country interfere with the wireless connection between the collar and the satellite.

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