National Donkey Week began in 1983 to celebrate the amazing lives of donkeys/burros and how they’ve been beneficial to humans today and throughout history. In 2023, it takes place from May 2 to 9.
May is considered “Burro Month.”
World Donkey Day is May 8.
Around the world burros have served as a beast of burden and mount.They have survived in the harshest climates, often bearing harsh treatment and tough terrains. They survived the mining industry in the American West carrying prospected ore over land and underground.
Burros are pretty amazing. 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). They can lose as much as 30% of their bodyweight to dehydration and, in one drink, rehydrate in less than 10 minutes.
The only lawsuit in the country focused on burros: Blue Wing
Burros are not horses. That seems like a simple statement and you may wonder why it is even necessary to state. (You can learn more about the unique needs of burros HERE)
When it comes to management of (supposedly) federally protected wild burros, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) does not even define what a burro is, how it uses the range and even how they reproduce or nutritional needs. The BLM just uses their “horse models” for burros. BLM provides no oversight to keep adopted or sold burros safe from the illegal wildlife trade in burro hides for Ejaio (Chinese medicine) threatening burro populations worldwide.
The only thing BLM seems to do differently with wild burros is to make extra effort to hide capture and handling.
At the Blue Wing Complex the only federal court case in the nation was filed by WHE and our partner CANA. Blue Wing is an area where WHE volunteers have been visiting and enjoying wild burros for a very long time.
The area BLM plans removals covers 2,283,300 acres and they state only 55-90 wild burros can exist in that area. The archaic plans use modeling for wild horses to assert population size and range utilization. The vast majority of the land base is used by domestic livestock and mining. Not only is there a sheer lack of science in BLM removal plans, they never created any actual management plan. There is no strategy to protect burros habitat or genetic viability (Herd Management Area Plans, HMAP), just long term removal plans that offer no opportunity to consider new science, data, threats.
Burros often suffer horribly during capture and in holding. So at Blue Wing, BLM hid everything. No real access to observe capture (over 1.5 miles from trap and as far as 2.5 miles away). No access to temporary sorting corrals. No access to short-term processing facilities. No access was even given to clearly document a burro on a trailer. After over a 7% death rate during processing (in the first few months) the burros have been shipped all over the country and adopted and sold with no protections from the Ejaio trade.
Nationwide the BLM says that less than 3000 burros is all the land can sustain in all of the western states as burro population worldwide face endangered status. At WHE, we find it absurd that most are focusing on how to do population growth suppression, calling it “humane management” while ignoring the threats to habitat, the absolute lack of “burro centric science” and absurdly low numbers. (more HERE on the threats to burros worldwide)
America’s long ears are loved by many. Their adorable babies, tough and resilient nature, make them a highlight of social media.
Our stand at Blue Wing can benefit wild burros nationwide as we fight back to gain science based management and protections on-range, from abuses during capture and to gain needed protection from the seedy slaughter trade. The case is active now with briefing of the courts continuing.
The attention to the burro can benefit the burro only if it translates into action.
Help keep us in the fight
Categories: Lead, Wild Horse Education
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