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Bighorn sheep make rare appearances in Saguaro National Park
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Bighorn sheep make rare appearances in Saguaro National Park

  • Updated

A bighorn sheep in Saguaro National Park East.

“It’s quite a rare sight,” but a few bighorn sheep have wandered through Saguaro National Park’s East and West districts recently, the park says on its Facebook page.

Bighorn were photographed in the park’s East district in the Rincon Mountains, for instance, on Nov. 23 by John Clark and Pamela Grant-Clark, and separately the same day by AnneMarie Zayac, says Don Swann, a Saguaro National Park biologist.

“We had bighorn in the early years of the park, but they were extirpated, probably in the 1950s; we know poaching, illegal hunting, was a factor,” Swann said Thursday. “But occasionally, in the last few years, we’ve had one come into the park from other mountain ranges, presumably the Catalinas,” where game officials began reintroducing bighorn sheep into the Pusch Ridge Wilderness Area starting in 2013.

Day in the life of a small cross-section of creatures that come and go behind Daily Star reporter Henry Brean's house in Tucson. Video by Henry Brean / Arizona Daily Star, produced by Rick Wiley (2020)

“We hope these magnificent animals may eventually re-establish themselves” in Saguaro National Park, park officials say in their Facebook post.

“Bighorns, mountain lions, and other mammals need to move freely across the landscape in order to maintain their populations. Starting this winter the park will be improving wildlife connectivity by removing old barbed wire grazing fences and making boundary fences more wildlife-friendly.

“We’ll need strong volunteers, so stay tuned!”

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