Reche Canyon Burros Contracting Deadly Equine Virus

An untold number of burros in the Reche Canyon Area stretching between San Bernardino County and Riverside County have contracted a respiratory illness believed to be equine influenza that is decimating their population.
For years, the burros have lived at large in the wildland foothills stretching from Reche Canyon in Colton over to San Timoteo Canyon in south Redlands and ultimately meeting up with Moreno Valley in Riverside County and the area near Box Springs Mountain and along Pigeon Pass Road. Residents have tolerated them, though they on occasion have gone into the roadway, where they represent a traffic hazard. Scores of the donkeys have been killed over the years when struck by vehicles. On the Riverside County side of the divide, DonkeyLand, a nearly 2,000-acre sanctuary and rescue center manned by volunteers has offered care for the beasts.
There was an outbreak of equine influenza in the area in and around Reche Canyon, Box Springs Mountain and Pigeon Pass Road earlier this year.
In June, there was what was believed to be another outbreak of the disease.
“Several herds in different jurisdictions have been dropping dead without any time to help save them,” a posting on the DonkeyLand website states. “Their symptoms have all been the same, from foaming or bubbles from the mouth, dripping noses, coughing or showing severe symptoms of heavy labored breathing. DonkeyLand has two deceased wild burros being tested. Preliminary findings are suggestive of equine influenza, [with] more testing for confirmation to follow as we wait for the final report and we will keep you posted.”
The posting continues, “In the meantime, please take protective measures. Remember the wild burros have water sources and natural springs in the hills. We ask everyone to please contact your local animal control if you find a sick burro, as well as if you find a deceased body. They will tag it and have the body removal service immediately pick it up. It is very important to have these bodies removed as soon as possible to prevent spreading disease to any healthy animal eating the carcass. This is a public health risk and risk of serious outbreak.”

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