Around the Bluhmin’ Town: We can all agree saving Hillary was worth it

Judy Bluhm

Judy Bluhm

Oh, Hillary, how we worried about you. Yes, we can all breathe a sigh of relief, as Hillary, the stranded donkey who was marooned for three years on a tiny island, has now been successfully rescued.

It took many caring neighbors to keep the lonely donkey alive.

During the drought of 2016, Hillary and her herd of donkeys walked out into the middle of Lake McClure in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. But as the heavy rains came and increased the water level, Hillary, with her lame leg, got cut off from the rest of the herd.

And there she was, alone on a little island of about one acre in the middle of the lake. A retired police chief first noticed her and started bringing her bales of hay. Other boating neighbors pitched in and kept her supplied with apples and pellets.

The neighbors devised a plan to get Hillary off the island. But wait! The government and its red tape stepped in and Hillary’s rescue went into the hands of California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

That’s because it is unlawful to capture an undomesticated burro on federal land. Oh Hillary, if only you had been on private property! Your isolation might have ended much sooner.

How many State officials does it take to rescue one little donkey? No fewer than 20 state wildlife biologists and veterinarians were involved in “Operation Save Hillary.”

It took some intricate planning. And as life goes, plans do not always work out. A small pen was set up on the island and filled with wonderful, tasty treats, like watermelon and pellets.

Then the biologists took off in their boat, ready to shut the door to the pen by remote-control, once Hillary stepped inside.

Did you know that geese love watermelon and free-roaming donkeys don’t like little pens? So the timid Hillary stubbornly refused to be tempted and stood her ground, far away from the suspicious pen, while a flock of geese enjoyed the treats immensely.

Now there is a Plan B, which involves a tranquilizing dart, a gurney and several strong men.

So Hillary was chased on foot around her little island until a veterinarian could land a shot with the dart and Hillary plopped to the ground.

Then the 600-pound beast had to be loaded onto a gurney, carried into a boat and taken to shore. She was then administered a drug to reverse the tranquilizer and Hillary soon stood up and looked around.

Clearly, Hillary had to be shocked at the amount of attention she received. Neighbors and local fisherman who had lovingly cared for her were teary eyed when they saw the little burro being led into a horse trailer.

And pulled away to a new life. She was taken to Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue in Texas and she is enjoying watermelons, hay, and community with other burros.

Some things take time. Everyone could have given up. But at the end of the day, we change the world one little donkey at a time.

And as one first grader said, “Saving Hillary was worth it.” I agree.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Have a comment or a story? Email Judy at

Donate Report a Typo Contact
Event Calendar
Event Calendar link
Submit Event