OK here we go – true story.Unless... Someone can come up with and post a photo of a Big Horn Sheep being airlifted from one place to another, and make up a story to go with it, about how he was rescued from an area of certain death, and relocated to an area where he could live out his days in comfort. (A Rescue mission with a happy ending)
TradClimber Rescue Peninsular Bighorn By Helicopter
Ron B. and I was hiking/climbing from Idyllwild to Palm Springs via Tahquitz Canyon back in the late 70's. It was on the third and final day when a bighorn lamb (2-3 months old) approached us and tried to suckle my fingers. It had been abandoned by the herd (probably couldn't keep up). In spite of a swollen belly – I could tell it was starving and would die if we couldn't save it.
I placed a 1” climbing sling around his neck to secure the creature. It wasn't needed – we was all it had and the lamb wasn't leaving us for anything. Our plan was for me to continue on to Palm Spring for help while Ron stayed in the canyon with the lamb.
After several hours I hiked out to Ann D. (a friend) house near the mouth of the canyon and used her phone to call Don L. (another friend). Don had several helicopters and owned Landell's Aviation in Desert Hot Springs.
Don said he would love to help but there was two conditions:
1.) At his cost it would be about $1000.
2.) Because it was on the endangered list, permission from Fish & Game was required.
I was able to raised the $1000 in just a few minutes. I called Morris (another friend and President of the Palm Springs Mounted Posse) and told him I hadn't read anything in the papers about PSMP in a long time. I asked him how he would like to do a good deed and get some PR out of it. I explained the situation, and he said PSMP would foot the helicopter bill.
Fish & Game was a different story. The first person I spoke with in Sacromento threaten to have me arrested for touching the creature. I then asked to speak with his supervisor – a much more reasonable person. I explained the herd had abandoned the lamb and it would surely die if I didn't get permission to save it. He granted me permission.
I called Don back and told him I had met both conditions. He landed his bird in the middle of the street by Ann's house and I hopped in. We flew back up Tahquitz Canyon where he did a one runner on a boulder. Ron got in the back seat and I handed him the lamb. We then flew the lamb to the Living Desert Museum in Palm Desert.
The next day the Living Desert Museum transported the lamb to the Los Angeles Zoo for medical treatment. Even with the medical help I was told it nearly died in the zoo. Several months later it was transported back to the Living Desert Museum. I went saw it a year later and it had grown into a fine young ram.
A rescue story with a happy ending!
PS: Sad note here. My good friend and best helicopter pilot I've ever flown with - Don Landells – crashed his bird and died on 10/6/86 while working on a bighorn project in the Mojave Desert.