- Associated Press - Saturday, October 31, 2015

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - About 30 bighorn sheep in Yuma will be relocated in an effort to rebuild the herd of bighorn sheep that vanished from the range north of Tucson.

The animals will be captured and sent to the Catalina Mountains in November, the Arizona Daily Star reported (https://bit.ly/1LISMI9).

Arizona Game and Fish Department spokesman Mark Hart says plans for the capture include pneumonia mitigation efforts. At least four bighorn sheep that were relocated previously contracted the infection and died.

“The source populations near Yuma have had prior exposure to pneumonia, so they will have some resistance to the disease,” Hart said. “Pneumonia is a limiting factor for bighorn populations throughout the West, but it doesn’t have to be devastating. It’s a matter of being mindful as we move forward.”

The Friends of Wild Animals advocacy group opposes the relocations. Attorney Cyndi Tuell has worked with the group on its opposition efforts.

“It is irresponsible for the advisory committee, especially the environmental groups on the committee, to support the capture and relocation of more sheep to the Santa Catalina Mountains at this time in light of the disease outbreak which is occurring not only in the Catalinas, but across the state,” she said.

Hart says relocations have been a factor in raising Arizona’s bighorn sheep population from 1,500 in 1957 to 6,000.

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Information from: Arizona Daily Star, https://www.tucson.com

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