Did you know that burros are one of the most resourceful animals to inhabit America’s Southwest? Unfortunately, they are too often misunderstood. Erroneous misconceptions about their impact on the environment mean that wild burros are subjected to ongoing threats like roundups and removals from Western public lands allocated to them by law.
Opponents of wild burros claim that they are an “invasive species” and are destructive to the land they occupy. But research tells a different story.
Research co-authored by Dr. Erick Lundgren and published in Science showed that wild burros provide a significant benefit to desert ecosystems. The burros not only browse and graze on the public lands, but they also dig wells that provide sources of water for nearly 60 other species of wildlife in the area!
While outlining the benefits wild burros have on their environment, this research discussed the danger of removing wild burros from the ecosystem.
For example, during the 1990s, a large number of wild burros from Nevada’s Ash Meadows Wildlife Reserve were removed with devastating consequences including:
Open springs became choked by vegetation, thereby destroying open-water habitats for endangered native fish populations. Despite efforts by land managers to imitate wild burros by manually removing the vegetation, it was documented that at least one pupfish population went extinct.
There are many other documented reasons why wild burros are a clear and necessary benefit to their environment, not a burden as those wishing to see them removed from taxpayer-funded public lands espouse.