Someone Is Gunning Down Wild Burros And There Is A $58,000 Reward To Bring Them To Justice
For the first time since the 50s, someone is gunning down the wild burros of California. Today, the burros have federal protection. Shooting one could land you in jail for a year, but so far at least 42 of them, including foals, have been found shot in the neck in a stretch of the Mojave Desert along Interstate I-15. A third of a population of about 120 has been wiped out.
William Perry Pendley from California’s U.S. Bureau of Land Management says they intend to track down the killers.
“We will pursue every lead until we’ve arrested and prosecuted those responsible for these cruel, savage deaths,” said Pendley.
According to CBS News:
“The original reward was $10,000 but, thanks to new donations from conservation and animal welfare organizations, the reward has now risen to nearly $60,000.”
— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 31, 2019
Since the shootings began in May, it’s gotten so bad that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and animal protection organizations are offering $58,000 in reward for information that leads to catching and convicting the killer or killers. Those responsible could face a year in prison for each burro killed as well as a fine.
The Humane Society of the United States donated $2,500, joining with six other animal rights organizations. Kitty Block, CEO and president, hopes to bring the killers to justice.
“The senseless slaying of these wild burros is deeply disturbing, and anyone who is capable of this level of violence must be held accountable,”said Block.
The slaughter is being called “an attack on the very spirit of the American West.” The wild burros have been a part of the landscape since the 1500s when they traveled from Africa. Spanish colonists introduced the burros, and they became pack mules for European explorers during the Gold Rush. They are uniquely suited to the harsh extremes of the desert environment and were vital for transporting supplies for the miners.
Without natural predators, the wild burros flourished in the arid Southwest. As their populations rose, farmers began seeing them as a nuisance which competed with their livestock for grass. The farmers started slaughtering them in the 50s, and it became so bad that animal rights advocates took the matter to Congress. However, nothing would happen for decades as the burros almost vanished.
A woman known as “Wild Horse Annie,” Velma Johnston, was eventually able to convince Congress to pass the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. She took on the big ranching interests and fearlessly fought for the rights of wild horses and burros. Her example shows that one determined person can make a huge difference.
The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act reads:
“Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene. It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.”
See more about the remarkable Wild Horse Annie from Simon & Schuster Books below:
Rather than killing the animals, officials urge the public to reach out to their local Bureau of Land Management, which can humanely control burro and wild horse populations. The bureau can use birth control methods and may also adopt the adorable burros. Nationally, the government manages about 16,000 wild burros live across five states.
See more from 8 News NOW Las Vegas:
Featured image: Wild burros via U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT