Burros in Blue Wing, Things to know

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Blue Wing Complex burros, 3/2016

Wild Horse Education is currently engaged in creating “scoping comments” for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Blue Wing Complex in northern Nevada. The complex has both horses and burros, including some very interesting paint burros.

Public interest that has been expressed to the few photos we posted on social media of the burros has been very high just in the 24 hours the photos have been online. Comments range from simply expressing how gorgeous the burros are at Blue Wing to requests for assistance in gaining information on how to adopt one should they be removed.

So we thought this might be a good opportunity to give you a few “burro facts.”

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One of the “paint burros” at Blue Wing, 3/2016

Many people think burros are like “horses with long fuzzy ears.” The truth is that a healthy wild burro utilizes the range differently than a wild horse. That is why you will might find a statement in a document, or a recommendation that we give to the BLM, that states “habitat more suitable for burros.” Our recommendation for Gold Mountain in 2013 is one such example (you can click here to read it). The area had a very small wild horse population that was showing signs of long term interbreeding and environmental stress. The area had a “paper” burro population but none in actual existence. The environment was also beginning to show signs of climate change through vegetative changes. We supported a removal of wild horses and the HMA to be utilized to reestablish a burro population (instead of removing burros to holding, relocate animals into the existing HMA. BLM was “like minded” and incremental reintroduction of a population is in the planning stages).

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Jack, or male burro, at Blue Wing

Burros are not horses.

  • While they are also an equid, the way their digestive system functions is much different. Burros are sometimes compared to small ruminants in their capabilities to digest and utilize fiber, the way a burro ferments and uses fiber is completely different than a horse. A diet of course grasses and shrubs suits a burro.
  • Burros can survive a loss of up to 30% of their body weight through water loss and replenish it with one drink.
  • Burros evolved in the African Desert and are a descendant of the African Wild Ass, (the African Wild Ass is one of the most endangered animals in the world).
  • A male burro is called a “jack,” and a female a “jenny.” When they are babies they are called foals. When they are little they are called “fillies and colts,” just like with horses.
  • People often use burros as guard animals. Burros have a range of vocalizations that can be heard for great distances. Most burros also have natural instinct to protect herds of goats and sheep from coyotes (so be careful if you adopt one and gradually introduce any dogs you might have).
  • The word “burro” is the Spanish word for “donkey.”

We will publish our scoping comments soon and explain how that part of the process works and why it is important.

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Blue Wing Burros, 3/18/2016

Further reading:

Last roundup in Blue Wing did not include burros, but had big media attention:

Our 2013 engagement with BLM on management during drought in the Winnemucca district includes Blue Wing. It also includes Snowstorm (part of Owyhee) where BLM was already under litigation for a lack of data used in decision making and issues of inhumane conduct brought by Wild Horse Education. We filed additional litigation and stopped Snowstorm until BLM created a humane handling policy and corrected deficits on data. (AWHPC spilt gas money with WHE, but did not pay for our time nor pay for litigation). You can read document here:

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