Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

West Texas Burros Get Reprieve

Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Marjorie Farabee was stopped from bringing her wagon to the steps of the capitol. But she did deliver around 100,000 signatures collected online to protest the burro killings.

Donkeys in West Texas can bray a little easier today: the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has announced that they will “not likely” conduct killings of wild burros in the region “until it has been determined whether any non-lethal methods are feasible.”

In a release today, the department says that they are working with the Human Society “to conduct an aerial survey to determine the numbers and locations of burros at the park, an essential first step to assess costs and feasibility of control options. TPWD has agreed to cost-share up to $10,000 to help pay for the survey, which should occur this spring.”

As StateImpact Texas reported in January, Parks and Wildlife sees the wild donkeys as an invasive species, responsible for habitat destruction and the fouling of West Texas water sources. (TPWD even has a webpage devoted to burro droppings found near water wells.) The burros were introduced to Texas by early Spanish colonists in the 1600s.

But some West Texas residents and advocacy groups felt differently, and led a donkey-powered protest on the state capitol in January asking for Parks and Wildlife to change its policy. They collected 100,000 signatures in an online petition protesting the donkey killings. With today’s news, it appears that stubbornness has paid off for the wild donkeys.


  • Jennifer Garretson, DVM

    So burros are THE ONLY animal in that park that defecates or urinates in water?!?!  Have you considered that donkey feces can be WASHED into water sources from rain water?  Donkeys don’t befoul their own water.  They usually create a common latrine to use away from sources of food or water so as to not befoul their own food and water source.  And you can’t tell me donkey urine and feces are THE ONLY fecal/urine samples ever found in water sources down there.  NO OTHER animal EVER befouls water down there?  Follow your precious big horn shhep around for a day and see where they defecate?!   I believe this statement is by far skewed.

  • Marjorief00

    This is a reprieve not a victory.  Congratulations to all for the hard work and passion put into saving these amazing animals.  The pressure is having an effect, and now is not the time to let up.  As HSUS conducts their aerial survey, and negotiates a live management program, we too must stay active to give HSUS the power of our voices to buoy their efforts.  Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has made it clear that they are not going to change their policy, and will continue killing off species essential to the health of this precious biosphere.  So, time is short because they will start shooting again as soon as they think the public has forgotten.  Just as they did in 2010 they will quietly just start shooting again.

    It is more important than ever to get legislation passed that will protect this national heritage species once and for all from being destroyed.  It is more important than ever that our efforts include critical review of the flawed science being used to justify the dangerous and destructive actions being carried out on our state lands.  There is a better way, and it is called holistic range management.  Our lands need animal diversity, and 86% of the people who visit these state parks, do so to enjoy living wildlife.  They are not hunters, they are nature enthusiasts.  The policies being carried out by our state agency, TPWD is destroying the land and hastening desertification.  Meanwhile, scientists are proving that holistic range management will reverse desertification.  The difference between these two approaches is demonstratively clear when looking at the evidence of results.  For 70 years our agencies throughout Texas and the United States have practiced reduction and over-rest even though they keep getting the same poor results.  It is time to change and do what has been shown demonstratively to work, holistic management.  It improves water utilization, soil health, and animal diversity.The Wild Burro Protection League March For Mercy will continue as scheduled on April 7th in Austin.  We seek nothing less than complete studies done by independent scientist who will submit their work for review to NAS.  All data collected should be made transparent and available to all for review.  We also want the status of the wild burro as a national heritage species to be recognized in Texas.  These animals mean a great deal to millions of people, yet the Texas policy allows for their destruction without a shred of remorse for all the people this hurts deeply.  Just because the burros don’t have the high dollar lobbyist that the bighorn have, it doesn’t mean they should be forgotten and destroyed.  They do have us.  Lets keep it up because it is working.  We need the patience of our burros to follow through until they are truly safe and living in an ecosystem that is thriving due to biodiversity.  We have power in our numbers and this animal is historically significant and culturally important to the people of Texas and the United States.  Good work everybody, see you in Austin on April 7th, as we celebrate the contributions of this magnificent animal.  

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »