MARIPOSA COUNTY (CBS13) — Rescuers are furious with how long it’s taking for an injured donkey to be rescued from a small island on Lake McClure in Mariposa County about 40 miles east of Modesto.
“How do you bury your head in the sand with an animal that’s hurt with a broken leg like she is and not help it?” said Horse Rescuer Bobbie Carne.
She is among a group of people who want to rescue the donkey from the island and get it the care it needs.
“This has been going on for nearly three years,” said retired Merced Police Detective Harry Markarian.
Markarian said he is frustrated to see the donkey still stranded on a tiny island after all this time.
“This island is only about an acre right now because the water levels came up so high,” he said.
When he first found the donkey back in 2017, he said the island was connected to another one which is now underwater.
“That really alarmed us because you can see there’s not really a lot of food for her,” he said.
Markarian said a family who owns a houseboat at the lake has been feeding the donkey several times a week. They now have to sell their boat, so he’s worried no one will be able to feed the donkey once they leave.
That’s not the only concern. The donkey is also nursing an old injury.
“We’re concerned about her broken leg,” said Markarian.
So about a month ago, he contacted a horse rescue for help and they came up with a plan to rescue the donkey.
“It’s ridiculous how long it takes to get something done,” Carne said. “We had everything together. We had tranquilizer, we had the boat, we had the vets, we had everything together within two weeks.”
Markarian said they planned to rescue the donkey on Saturday and the Merced Irrigation District, which manages the lake, was on board. The Bureau of Land Management, which owns part of the island, also gave them the green light.
“This particular island is split. Half belongs to MID and half belongs to BLM. Well, I have permission from both of them and they both said to do what’s best for the donkey,” said Markarian.
He said the California Department of Fish and Wildlife shut them down because they need time to interpret the law.
“We kind of had the wind taken out of our sails,” said Markarian.
The California Fish and Game Code say it’s illegal to capture a wild donkey unless the landowner makes the request. Even then, only an officer or employer of a local animal control agency can do so. So far, the agencies haven’t determined who should take responsibility for the animal.
“They keep pointing fingers. It’s like ping pong. It’s ridiculous. This whole government red tape,” said Carne.
So for now, Markarian and Carne have to put their plans on hold and are hoping a decision is made soon.
“We don’t need to go to court for this, we’re just trying to do the common sense thing,” said Markarian.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife said it is aware of the case and is planning to send someone out this week to assess the donkey’s condition and to come up with a plan.