A crew* from the Large Animal Rescue Team, a volunteer group of faculty, staff and students based at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, flew to Bishop, CA Wednesday, August 6 when a veterinarian for a pack station called for assistance with an injured animal. After a few setbacks, the team, working with local volunteers, successfully rescued the animal from a canyon August 8.
A pack mule named Nellie, just beginning a trek at an elevation of 9500 feet, had lost her footing on a trail made slippery by summer rain in the Eastern Sierra about 20 miles north of Bishop. Though her rider jumped to safety, Nellie slid 100 feet down a slick rock slope before she stopped.
Nellie sustained a fractured pelvis and leg wound. Bishop veterinarian David Doonan (UC Davis Class of 1990) joined packers and Department of Forestry rangers to aid the stranded mule, treating her wounds and bringing in food. But they were unable to get Nellie off the mountain.
John Madigan and the UC Davis team, experienced in difficult rescues of large animals, prepared to airlift Nellie out of her predicament. Weather conditions, helicopter availability and technical difficulties, however, hindered efforts to raise the mule to safety Wednesday and Thursday.
Finally, on Friday, August 8, a privately chartered helicopter based in Jackson, CA airlifted Nellie about a mile to a safe location. Funds for the rescue were provided by private donors.