An estimated 300 wild donkeys have been granted a reprieve from a lethal state plan which has killed about 130 of them since 2007. They live in the Big Bend Ranch State Park, a 316,000 acre area. Park rangers had been eliminating some of them, because they are considered an invasive species, meaning they were introduced and can do damage to native plants while consuming water.
Native species might suffer due to the foraging of the large four-footed ungulates. Parts of Texas are still undergoing drought conditions, and having the donkeys around is believed by some to reduce water availability for native species.
Three hundred donkeys in a park with 316,000 acres would be about one donkey per one thousand acres if they were distributed evenly, so one might argue they probably aren’t doing that much damage. But perhaps it isn’t clear to anyone yet exactly if the donkeys are living in one concentrated area and precisely what their impact is. An aerial survey is going to be conducted to get a better picture of where the donkeys are and their true impact. If the aerial survey shows the impact isn’t so large, it might call into question the eliminating of 130 of them over the last five years.
Protestors gathered 103,000 signatures and asked Governor Perry to stop the state’s donkey killing. People who support the policy still argue they are invasive and harm habitats for native animals. Some of this damage though appears to be just donkey poop and urine. The state of Texas has photos of the “damage caused by feral burros” here.
The Humane Society offered to provide a nonlethal plan to deal with them, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will contribute up to $10,00 for the aerial survey.
“We are happy to work with the department and are pleased that they have halted lethal control of the burros while discussions are under way,” said a Human Society official. (Source: Business Week)
One option is trapping and relocation, but it can be very difficult to nab them, and transfer to other places is expensive, if there is a facility available.
Image Credit: Lilly M / Wiki Commons