AZGFD: No pet goats, sheep in Catalina Mountains

Published: Mar. 18, 2016 at 10:10 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 4:19 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Arizona Game and Fish Department is warning hikers against bringing domestic sheep or goats into the Catalina Mountains, citing a potential spread of disease.

Volunteers installed several warning signs Friday, March 18 at three of the city's trailheads, including Pima Canyon, Finger Rock and Ventana Canyon. The signs advise hikers to leave their pet sheep or goats at home, especially while hiking in the Pusch Ridge wilderness area.

"We've received a report of one or more individuals trail walking with a goat," said AZGFD spokesman Mark Hart. "We want this person to stop, and anyone else who has a pet goat, not to walk the trails up there because it puts our bighorn sheep population at risk."

Hart said domestic goats and sheep, even without symptoms, can transfer diseases such as pneumonia and pink eye. He said the herd is dealing with a pneumonia outbreak that has already claimed the life of about six animals.

"We don't further infections," Hart said. "Pink eye in itself is not fatal, but it can cause blindness in the bighorn sheep. If they can't see, they can't evade predators or work that rocky terrain."

The U.S. Forest Service is helping the AZGFD with the initiative and is trying to decide whether or not to make bringing pet sheep or goats into the Catalinas illegal.

"We don't want to do a major intervention with the bighorn sheep population in the Catalinas to save them from something like pink eye," Hart said. "We'd rather people respect the process we're trying to follow and keep domestic animals out of there."

More information on the Catalina Bighorn Sheep Restoration project is available HERE.

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