While there was a big splash in the news when an animal control officer in La Quinta rescued a young desert bighorn sheep ram from a canal last Sunday, there hasn’t been a peep about the death of another bighorn in canal in the same area this week since the rescue. But that’s hardly news these days. These rare desert sheep drown all the time in these canals.

I was shown the skull of a huge ram that drowned in one of the area canals a couple of years ago, a sheep that would have brought over $100,000 in tag money if the sheep was killed legally by a hunter who bought an auction tag. Yet, no hands were even slapped over the needless death of this sheep, no fines collected, no citations written. The DFW refuses to demand that the golf course owners and canal operators fence the sheep off of the fairways (where they get diseases and die) and canals (where they drown) to protect them from the hazards. In fact — I’ll repeat this — they don’t even get fined for illegal take when one drowns or dies of disease.

This is our DFW at its best. They will help implement a stupid statewide ban on lead ammunition for hunting on the off chance it might save a hawk or two from dying of lead poisoning. And “might” is an optimistic term because the reality is that the ban will have zero effect on any species’ population. But this is the same agency that won’t enforce regulations and laws that ban the take of eagles (by windmills and solar power) and bighorn sheep (by golf-course caused disease and drowning in canals). The agencies priorities are completely out of whack.

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