Bighorn sheep release

Thirty-one bighorn sheep were transplanted to the Catalinas in November.

Eight of the 31 bighorn sheep reintroduced to the Catalina Mountains have died, with seven being killed by mountain lions, according to a new report by the state Game and Fish Department.

The report, issued Friday, showed that three more bighorns have been found dead since the last report was issued by the agency. One of the eight bighorns died from a medical condition related to being captured.

The three latest deaths were all adult ewes and were all caused by mountain lions, the report said.

Game and Fish officials tracked a mountain lion believed responsible for the latest killing, but did not locate it.

The lions believed responsible for the other two recent deaths were not tracked, the report said.

So far, the agency has killed two mountain lions believed to be responsible for killing sheep.

The bighorns were reintroduced into the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson in November to try to re-establish a herd that died out in the 1990s.

The bighorn deaths and killings of mountain lions have sparked widespread criticism of the agency's project.

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In other news, the Coronado National Forest has updated a map showing the boundaries of a special closure area for trails in the bighorn sheep re-introduction area.

The new map shows the trails where hiking restrictions are in place and where dogs are not allowed.

The restrictions in place prohibit anyone from going more than 400 feet off of designated trails during bighorn lambing season, from Jan. 1 to April 30. Dogs are not allowed in the closure area.

Trails entirely within the Pusch Ridge Wilderness affected by the special closure order include Romero, Linda Vista, Finger Rock, Pontatoc, and Pima Canyon. Boundary trails affected by the closure order are Ventana Canyon, Cathedral Rock, and portions of Esperero, West Fork, Romero, and Sutherland Wash, according to a Forest Service news release.