May 2016

5 Lambs Die in Two Weeks

May saw significant loss as five young endangered Peninsular bighorn lambs died on

two golf resorts in La Quinta (PGA West and SilverRock). These lambs died within a two week period and were showing signs of upper respiratory infection (coughing, nasal discharge, droopy ears and significant weight loss). This is the second year in a row that lambs utilizing the golf courses in La Quinta have become sick and many died. Last year, only 2 of 10 lambs using the courses survived and so far, we know that 5 of 15 lambs have died this year around the golf courses. We expect more lambs to die in the coming weeks. The sheep on these golf courses browse in abnormally large groups so when one animal is sick, disease can spread like wildfire. As long as there is no barrier to keep the sheep out of these urban areas, we anticipate this trend will continue.

Twelve bighorn sheep, that we know of, have now died in and around the La Quinta golf courses, since 2012. Four have drowned in the Coachella Canal, one ate oleander, one was hit by a car and six were sick and died. In 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife wrote a joint letter requiring a barrier (i.e., a fence) to be built within 2 years around these La Quinta golf courses, but the authorities are still "studying" the issue. The 2 year deadline was February 28, 2016, and already 5 lambs have died since that expiration date. We have received much feedback from the recent news casts and newspaper articles about the lamb deaths and people keep asking us what can be done. Our best advice is to contact the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, CA Department of Fish & Wildlife, City of La Quinta and CVAG and ask why this is not being enforced.