July 2016

Yearling Ewe in the Streets

On July 22nd, Bighorn Institute received a call from the police reporting a female bighorn on the streets of La Quinta on Jefferson Street adjacent to SilverRock golf resort. Institute biologists responded to the call and found a yearling ewe farther north at Avenue 49. With help from 4 Indio police officers we made several attempts to haze the ewe back to the mountains, but the ewe was likely disoriented and determined to continue northeast away from the hills. With the extreme heat, we ended our efforts as the ewe was getting hot and was in Indian Palms Country Club in Indio, about 4 miles away from the nearest mountain. This is the farthest we have reported a bighorn sheep from the mountains in this range. Fortunately, that evening, the yearling ewe made her way back to the mountains as we had hoped.

This was a dangerous situation for all involved and could have ended very differently. This yearling ewe utilizes the La Quinta golf course areas daily and is habituated, which is why she did not respond to hazing efforts like a wild bighorn. Her unnatural behavior significantly complicated the situation. This was the 3rd incident of sheep running the streets of La Quinta around SilverRock in a 3 day period and the police were called to all 3 events. We want to thank the La Quinta and Indio Police Departments for their much-needed assistance. A fence around SilverRock is needed to keep the sheep off of the busy streets adjacent to the golf course and keep motorists safe from a bighorn collision.