Arizona Spends Nearly $5 Million on Bridges for Sheep. Still No Cash for Transplants...Or Anything Else

You might think a state as strapped for cash as Arizona's been these last few years wouldn't have pissed away nearly $5 million on things like bridges for sheep. You'd be wrong.

The Arizona Republic this morning published an article about three bridges built across the Hoover Dam that are three of the most exclusive bridges in the country. In fact, humans need not apply -- these bridges are for sheep, and they cost taxpayers $4.8 million.

We're aware the decision to drop that kind of cash on a bridge for sheep was made prior to the current budget crunch, but it's stupid crap like this that's put Arizona so deep in the red.

Wildlife officials say the first-of-its-kind project will help save Arizona's largest herd of bighorn sheep and keep them off of U.S. 93, thus improving highway safety.

From the Republic:

The Black Mountains are home to about one-third of Arizona's desert bighorn sheep. Rams from the herd have been transplanted in other parts of Arizona, Utah, Colorado and Texas.

Biologists knew some of the sheep crossed the two-lane highway, 15 harrowing miles of sharp turns and steep inclines, but some sheep stopped and turned around. The fragmented habitat made it difficult for the sheep herd to recover from drought or disease and to breed properly.

"Movement is critical for bighorn sheep," said Zen Mocarski, education manager for the Game and Fish Kingman region. "As we cut animal populations into smaller and smaller segments, we start to see inbreeding. . . . It's not a good thing to have happen."

You know what else isn't a "good thing to have happen?" A human being needing a new liver but being told to piss off because the state's more concerned with getting a few sheep across the Colorado river.

Last month, Governor Jan Brewer opted to slash about $1.2 million from the state's Medicaid funding, which is a problem for the 98 Arizonans waiting for a life-saving transplant procedure they may no longer be able to afford thanks to the cuts.

Since the cuts were made, two people awaiting transplants have died.

The Republic's article notes that "state State officials know critics may question the need to build bridges for wildlife or object to the cost, $4.8 million for the three structures."

There's no "question" -- building a bridge for sheep is just flat-out stupid.

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James King
Contact: James King