I recently purchased a classic car in Portland and was driving home to Las Vegas and broke down in the desert 24 miles out of Hawthorne and had it towed to the NAPA store in Hawthorne at 2 in the morning. The next morning I awoke early and went to check on the car and figure out the next plan of action, while looking at the car a man (Donald Moody) who was walking his dog approached me and asked what was wrong and I explained my situation. He walked to his home and brought back string and tools and we measured for a new fan belt that had broken as there was no looking it up for a 1939 Plymouth Street Rod.
When the store opened the owner Tina Manzini and her employee Reese Schultz (who was there on his day off collecting parts for his own project) figured out and had the belt I needed in stock. But wait there is more to my story all of these people and another person Max Berry assisted in the belt replacement and a no start condition which existed after the belt replacement and helped work on my car for over 2 hours to solve my issue and get me down the road. This is true customer service form a business and a community in a society which generally does not want to get involved.
I can remember capturing Desert Bighorns in the Desatoyas that were released in Cottonwood Canyon a little more than a decade ago. This happened just after an all age die-off on Slate and Fairview Mountains that I was very involved in, which occurred just after a total die off involving California Bighorns in Northern Washoe County and very involved there also. Witnessing these die-offs and trying to figure out why and how many were left was consuming a lot of my time. Many years of two healthy herds were decimated very quickly and we were all wondering which herd was next. It was heart breaking but most were confident a better outcome would be achieved.
When news came that a trap and transplant was going to happen to augment Walker Lake Bighorns from a healthy herd it gave a lot of us a much needed mental lift. This particular herd was considered because of the elevation that they inhabited in the Desatoyas and where they preferred them to be at in their new home. Many gathered at snow covered Cold Springs that cold morning making it ideal for what was about to take place. I can’t remember the numbers that were caught but it would be enough to make a difference at Walker Lake.
It seemed like half the town of Hawthorne was waiting when the caravan arrived in the town of Walker with a trailer full of bighorns. Driving up to the release site I noticed a couple different lion tracks and wondered how long they’d last, would it be like the first one that I could remember that were released and all became victims to Mt. Lions? But this particular augmentation to a small existing herd would prove to be a great success, well almost. I’ll talk about that later. The two herds seemed to be just that, they actually stayed separated from each other for the most part. I would make a few trips there to see if any had made Mt. Grant their new hangout. A couple did make it to Mt.Grant at least for a while. I would talk with the Area Biologist often curious to hear how they were doing and was assured the population was stable or growing. Since that endeavor the herd(s) have been doing very well. There’s enough being born to overcome natural predation it surely seems, there’s plenty of forage and water for a growing population to expand to even higher numbers. Maybe.
The deaths of wildlife occur on roads everywhere, no question. The deaths of the Walker Lake Bighorns are occurring at a level that could either set back a great recovery or stop it all together, unless we address the problems now, put a plan in place and work towards fixing those problems identified. To do less is not acceptable. The needs are obvious to most and those concerned will make the difference that is needed to minimize the impact that vehicles are causing. There will always be deaths on the roads but it doesn’t have to be as high as it is now.
Here are a few of what I believe can make a difference:
1. Temporarily lower the speed limit to 35 mph where these animals are getting hit while waiting for permanent fixes.
1A. Educate residents of the dangers to wildlife by providing water and forage close to the road.
2. Install more signage with blinking lights to make people aware of the strong possibility
that bighorns and other wildlife are on the road.
3. Continue spraying plants at the shoulders of the road, maybe increase application times and quantity.
4. Construct a guzzler and plant desirable bighorn forage in an area that is big enough to satisfy their needs far enough away from the road that NDOW is comfortable with. This will have to have fencing.
5. Install fencing where the majority of these bighorns are gathering.
6. Construct an overpass for these to get to the lake with fencing for guidance. An underpass would be acceptable if the overpass is not feasible.
7. Understand that Rome was not built in a day but also be aware of the urgency and importance to get this done.
[Editor’s Note: The Independent-News reached out twice to Jason Salsbury with Nevada Department of Wildlife. At press time, no call has been returned.]