Texas Suspends Wild Burro Killing Policy

The 300 feral burros living in Big Bend Ranch State Park in Texas are considered to be a destructive nuisance. Since 2007 park rangers have been authorized to shoot and kill the animals. On Tuesday Texas suspended that policy, thanks to an offer from the Humane Society of the United States to develop a humane plan to remove the animals.

Texas park rangers have killed 130 burros that roam the 316,000-acre state-owned park near the Rio Grande. The state claims they do not have the funds to capture and relocate the wild burros who are accused of using too much of the natural resources and threatening the lives of other animals like bighorn sheep.

Ironically Big Bend National Park, which sits next to the state park and is federally run, sees the burros in a totally different light. They view the feral donkeys as the “living symbols and pioneer spirit of the West” and observe a 40-year-old federal ban on killing the animals.

This paradox didn’t go unnoticed by HSUS who sent Nicole Paquette, their Texas director, to review the situation and negotiate a plan. She helped convince Texas wildlife officials to suspend the killing policy.

“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 Paquette.

The first part of the plan will be to determine the exact numbers of burros living in Big Bend Ranch State Park and where they are located.

Texas Parks and Wildlife has agreed to contribute up to $10,000 to obtain an aerial survey of the wild burros. After the survey, Humane Society officials will sit down and “assess the viable non-lethal alternatives.”

HSUS is also researching facilities where the burros could possibly be relocated. The organization recently airlifted 119 burros from Hawaii to a ranch in California, and it has a 1,300-acre rescue ranch in northeast Texas that is home to about 1,200 animals.

“We’d have to look at the population (at the rescue ranch) and see how much more the acreage could stand,” said Paquette. Another 300 rescued burros already live on the property.

“We have not committed to getting the burros out of the park. We don’t even know if that’s feasible,” continued Paquette.

Over the years Texas wildlife officials have made several attempts to trap and relocate the burros, but each proved to be unsuccessful. Without a plan to control the population, in 2007 they resorted to the extreme method of shooting the animals.

When the public became aware that 71 burros had been killed they were outraged and called for an end to the policy. Texas wildlife turned to a nonprofit organization called, Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue for help, but after two years the group failed to capture any of the animals. Park rangers resumed shooting the burros, killing 59 from August 2010 to September 2011.

Wildlife officials say their main responsibility to the area is to protect the park’s land and water. They encourage nonlethal solutions from outside agencies to fix the burro problem and are hopeful HSUS will come through with an answer. However, they are ready to resume their killing policy if the Humane Society’s methods “prove unfeasible.”


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Photo Credit: AlanVernon


W. C
W. Cabout a year ago


William C
William Cabout a year ago

Thank you.

Terry Vanderbush
Terry V5 years ago

Leave Mother Nature alone.

Trudy Killa
Trudy Killa5 years ago

There is no reason to destroy these burros, just as there is no reason to destroy the wild horses. These mass roundups & killings are due to human ideas that everything on this earth was put there for human use. Once we have killed off all the creatures, we will have an ugly unbearable world & who will we go after next.

federico bortoletto
federico b5 years ago

Grazie per la condivisione.

Carrie Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Katherine Wright
Katherine Wright5 years ago

Do you know who is MORE of a destructive nuisance????? People...yup, that's right, people.
And when are going to put a stop to it.....when man"kind" has killed every other living species? I don't want to live in a world devoid of animals..................I would probably go mad.

Jim T.
Jim T.5 years ago

Trapping long ears should not be a problem...mineral licks work wonders..it's how most of our wild horses in Alberta Canada are trapped..heavy bush makes any kind of round ups impossible ...So all you need is some correl panels ,some brush to hid the panels..and mineral blocks..Don't water them for two days then put the water tough in the trailer..They load them selves..leans towards the cruel side with no water..but not near as bad as shooting them in the back and leave them to die....Animals can smell minerals for miles...every time I salt my driveway, I have about 8-10 elk come in early mornings for about 4-5 days..drives the collie dog nuts...she can't chase them off...fortunately she knows about kicks and striking hooves are hurting units...

Marjorie F.
Marjorie F.5 years ago

The Wild Burro Protection League has been forefront on this issue. In 2011 we asked Stephanie Boyles of HSUS to help us protect the burros at the International Equine Conference in Arlington VA. There was little interest in the issue from them at the time. We launched a petition that has to date garnered over 108,000 signatures, and started a National Movement on behalf of our wild burros. In January we delivered 103,000 of those signatures to Governor Perry requesting that he intervene, and continued the pressure on TPWD. We then planned our event the Wild Burro Protection League March For Mercy which is taking place April 7th in Austin. We oppose the removal of burros from the park, and believe that HSUS is setting burros up to be shot. This park is part of a much larger biosphere, and it is not fenced. These burros have been migrating through the Chihuahuan corridor for hundreds of years. They are a returned native, and as such they are important to the health of the ecosystem. Once HSUS is able to remove a handful of burros and leave, TPWD will feel justified to kill any that enter the park after that. It is a repulsive plan that has not taken into account the feelings of the local people to removing burros who are a part of their culture. Wild Burro Protection League held a town hall meeting with the border towns last year and the overwhelming response was that they would like the burro to remain, and that they would like to develop this last herd of wild bur

Vivianne Mosca-Clark

I'm just glad they stopped shooting them.