Bighorn Sheep Rescued from Near-Fatal Swim
By: David Mizejewski
Bighorn sheep are creatures of the desert and mountains. They are specially adapted to survive in the extremes of arid habitats, where vegetation is tough and brown and water is hard to come by during much of the year. So when one showed up swimming in a golf course canal in La Quinta, CA it was a surprise sight for many.
Turns out there's a herd of bighorn sheep that hang around the Arnold Palmer Golf Course to take advantage of lush green grass and the regular water source in the otherwise arid Southern California.
This particular sheep apparently got a little too close to the water while getting a drink, and fell in. The steep, slick sides prevented it from getting out.
Fortunately for this sheep, rescuers from Riverside County Animal Services got to the scene in time.
They reported that there were scrape marks on the side of the canal where the exhausted animal had tried but failed to pull itself out.
Unfortunately, wild animals in trouble don't know that rescuers are trying to help them. Rescuers ultimately had to loop the rope on a control stick around one of the sheep's horns and pull it out that way. At that point the sheep realized it was being rescued and didn't resist. Once it was free of the water, it fled the scene and headed for the hills. Hopefully it learned its lesson and will avoid the canal.
Unfortunately, it's not the first to fall into the canal, and other sheep have drowned. This population of bighorn sheep is endangered and plans are in place to install a fence around the potential death trap for wildlife.
Riverside County Animal Control posted this account to their Facebook page:
"This photo was taken at PGA West (just next to Arnold Palmer Golf Course) in La Quinta, Calif. The canal runs adjacent to the golf course and is very near an area known for the bighorn sheep. There are rugged slopes and terrain where the sheep travel in herds. In fact, they've been known for walking onto the golf course to graze on the fairways. The Desert Sun newspaper wrote a story recently about a concern some wildlife experts have regarding the sheep's frequent grazebys at PGA West. An 8-foot wall has been proposed to keep the sheep up in the wild regions of the Coachella Valley. (Bear in mind that the San Jacinto Mountain area is very close to many of the communities that dot the desert region in the Coachella Valley.)"