Dec 5, 2013 7:54 PM by Erika Flores
TUCSON - Mountain lion supporters are taking a stand creating an online petition to protect animals after Arizona Game and Fish killed two over the weekend.
Arizona Game and Fish believes the mountain lions killed three newly released bighorn sheep. There were thirty-one bighorn sheep released at Catalina State Park last month. The first dead sheep was found last Wednesday near Romero Canyon.
Then two more were found Saturday. Arizona Game and Fish said two were killed by mountain lions. That led to the killing of two mountain lions over the weekend by Arizona Game and Fish.
Penny Johnson signed the petition started by her brother.
She hopes to get enough signatures to send it to the AZ Game and Fish department to make killing mountain lions in Arizona illegal.
Johnson said it shouldn't be up to Arizona Game and Fish to decide which species is more important.
"The bighorn sheep didn't make it up there," said Johnson. "It's not our place to put them back up there. If they made it in Yuma, that's where they should be and they should be protected like every animal in the desert."
Johnson claims Arizona Game and Fish is reintroducing the bighorn sheep to make a profit.
Under the proposal by Arizona Game and Fish, the department announced their hope to generate public support and appreciation for the bighorn sheep in the Tucson area.
Eventually if the population of the bighorn sheep grows, Arizona Game and Fish stated they would consider hunters to hunt the bighorn sheep.
News 4 Tucson reached out to the Arizona Game and Fish about this petition, this is their statement:
Ratified by the Advisory Committee 12/05/2013
"It is unfortunate that we have had predation events on the sheep that necessitated the removal of the mountain lions. The goal of this project is bighorn sheep and mountain lions coexisting in a naturally functioning ecosystem. To achieve that goal, it is important to quickly establish a viable population of sheep by temporarily reducing lion predation. The predator management plan for this project is the most conservative possible and was crafted through discussions with a wide and diverse variety of local stakeholders. By utilizing this new approach we are minimizing the impact to the mountain lion population and foregoing indiscriminate techniques utilized elsewhere to deliberately reduce the local mountain lion population. The project is under continual evaluation and management responses will adapt to best achieve the goal of healthy sheep and lion populations in the Catalina Mountains."