This has been an ongoing controversy as wildlife managers have built giant water tanks within wilderness, allegedly to help Kofa bighorn sheep. Instead, the bighorns avoid the water tanks.
The Kofa National Wildlife Refuge has also been planning to kill Kofa mountain lions to decrease predation on the bighorn sheep. It’s a classic example of managers doing everything in their power to manipulate the natural world for a single-species – and getting it wrong anyway.
Bighorns Shun Desert Water Tanks – PEER News Release 9/15/09
(Tucson, AZ) Remote cameras installed to detect bighorn sheep use at two controversial man-made water developments constructed in the Kofa Wilderness in 2007 suggest the tanks have completely failed to provide water for bighorns. The cameras, installed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) at the McPherson and Yaqui Tanks, captured photos of mule deer, hawks, doves, vultures, coyotes and bobcats, but not a single bighorn drinking from the tanks in the two years since their construction.
“Building these artificial water developments in an attempt to artificially inflate bighorn sheep numbers was contrary to preserving the area as wilderness,” stated George Nickas, Executive Director of Wilderness Watch. “We’ve felt all along that the project was wrong from both a legal and ecological standpoint. The camera data bear that out and they completely undermine the USFWS’ argument that the tanks are necessary in Wilderness.”