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Jun 7, 2013 8:05 PM by Sam Salzwedel

Wildlife managers might kill mountain lions

TUCSON - Wildlife managers announced they might kill mountains during the reintroduction of bighorn sheep in the Catalina Mountains.

If a lion kills a sheep, The Arizona Game and Fish Department will try to locate and kill the specific lion that killed the sheep.

"This is going to be a very limited, tightly controlled effort to prevent mountain lions from complicating the bighorn sheep reintroduction," Game and Fish spokesperson Mark Hart said. "We're only going to go and seek a mountain lion if we can determine it killed a bighorn sheep, and we can find that specific lion. That means fast response by us using the best available science."

The bighorn sheep will have GPS locators and managers will be able to detect a death quickly. If an investigation shows a mountain lion is responsible, a hunting guide with dogs will try to find the lion.

There is a healthy population of probably more than 60 lions in the Catalina and Rincon Mountains, according to Hart. They feed on a large deer population.

Wildlife managers have been working closely with environmental groups like the Sky Island Alliance and the Wilderness Society who are optimistic the limited plan will work.

Starting in November, they will introduce 30 sheep a year for 3 years. They will likely be captured near Yuma or Mesa then relocated.

Sheep have not been in the Catalinas since the 1990s, with a population of about 100, according to Hart.

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