Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Here locally – well, really about half-way between here and Loma Linda - there is a canyon that connects the Loma Linda-Colton area of San Bernardino County with the Moreno Valley area of Riverside County. It’s possible to take the freeway from one place to the other, but sometimes if the freeway is clogged up, or if you just need a soul-soothing ride, it is really pleasant to drive through Reche Canyon, which is sparsely populated. It’s a two lane road and not really heavily trafficked – and it’s not really very long either, just a few miles, maybe 8 or so.

But there is one unique problem with it: there are darling little wild burros wandering around, mostly in the hills but often near the road itself. Every now and then a burro gets onto the road and is hit by a car. It happens about once a month and when it does, the burros are usually killed outright or damaged so badly they must be euthanized. As if that isn’t bad enough, some years back a young woman driving through the canyon at dusk hit a burro and its body crashed through her windshield, killing her too. At night it is especially difficult to see the little guys, and if it wasn’t for the fact that there is not a lot of traffic through the canyon after dark, the threat would be far greater.

There are people living in the canyon who generally do so because they want acreage for their animals and a rural lifestyle. Several of them have formed a support group for the burros. Their first goal is to make reflective collars to put on as many burros as they can so car headlights can pick them up long before the car reaches them. Some of the animals are fairly socialized and the support group works to find good homes for those. Sometimes baby burros are found separated from their mothers, and these little guys are hand raised, becoming as companionable as a dog. No one wants to kill the critters off, so this support group is working hard to make living together safer.

There are a number of stories put forth about how the burros got into the canyon in the first place, because this is not their natural habitat. They are known to have been there as far back as the 1950s. Periodically a newspaper does a feature story on them and touts the support group’s efforts. This group now has its own website at www.rechecanyonburros.com. It’s an interesting site to nose around on, with lots of information about burros in general and these burros in particular. And lots of pictures. If you take a look you’ll see that there are some awfully cute little guys.

Working to make the area safer for man and beast is a noble endeavor, I think.

Yea, I’m a softy, that’s for sure.

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