RECHE CANYON, Calif. -- At first glance, the rolling hills of Reche Canyon appear to be the perfect place for hundreds of wild donkeys to roam, but you don't need to look far to see one of the dangers for these burros: the speeding cars along Reche Canyon Road.
"People fly through there like they're racing," said Wendy Petrunio, a volunteer at a non-profit donkey rescue organization called Donkeyland, which is located on Reche Canyon Road. "If a donkey steps in front of you, your chances of stopping are slim to none."
And if it's not the traffic, then it's all of the other illegal activity happening in the hills. "There's shooting over there, bullets all over the place," said Petrunio. "There's off-roading, which is illegal."
Volunteers say the burros have been roaming the hills between Colton and Moreno Valley for more than 70 years. Not only is the traffic, shooting and off-road activity a threat to the wild donkeys, another volunteer says so is the development.
"It's a never-ending battle for us," said Jim Ramsey, who lives nearby. But he's pleased to hear about the recent help they're getting in that battle, from perhaps an unlikely source.
Former game show host Bob Barker.
"Well, I think donkeys are just about as cute as they come," said Barker during a phone interview. Barker has helped Donkeyland before, helping secure the land for their rescue. But he's recently stepped in to make a much larger donation to purchase more than 460 acres of land to be set aside as a sanctuary for the wild donkeys.
"I grew up on an Indian reservation in South Dakota, and saw animals of all kinds," said Barker. "I never met a donkey I didn't like."
Barker didn't disclose how much his foundation spent to purchase the land, but the volunteers say the first step is to have the land surveyed. It then needs to be cleaned up. They plan to coax the animals from the land near the busy road to the new sanctuary.
"I think it's the most wonderful thing ever. It's exactly what we needed," said Petrunio. "We want to keep them wild and this will help with doing that."