Texas "Donkey War"

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Texas and donkeys have a long history, and the cultural significance goes back to the old days of settling the West. Now the donkeys or burros as they're known in Texas, are considered destructive intruders. Texas Park Rangers are trying to wipe out the free roaming donkeys that live in their parks. So far 130 donkeys have been killed. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department estimates there are about 300 wild donkeys that are taking over habitat in the Big Bend State Park and drinking water in a state suffering from drought. The donkeys are assumed to have come from Mexico, deserted on Mexican ranches and then crossing over to Texas. The donkeys are eating, drinking and taking away from the native species of Texas.

Some residents of Texas believe the state only cares about one animal; the bighorn sheep. That is why they have issued orders to shoot the donkeys, they are taking habitat from the bighorns. Luis Armenderiz, a former Big Bend supervisor, has stated that the donkeys' impact is low, no more than people constructing bike trails. In the past bighorn sheep permits have sold at auction for $100,000 and more. From AJC.com.


hunter25's picture

I never realized there were

I never realized there were so many of these things running around out there, my first thought was how can they really be such a problem? I have no problem with getting rid of them but thiught maybe they were making up weak excuses. After reading more about them I can see how the water issue could in fact be a very big one. Especially as it was pointed out if they keep other animals away from the limited supply. While I was hunting in Texas I saw some of that behavior from a few that wandered by on the ranch I was hunting. There was a water tank in sight and they would in fact keep all other animals away while they just hung out and did nothing. Hopefully they find the right solution to take care of this problem if it'a as big as they claim in that area. Again I have no problem with getting rid of them myself.

I'm thinking the issue with

I'm thinking the issue with water usage by feral donkeys is more about competition than it supply.  Feral donkeys can be and typically are pretty aggressive at water sources.  If the source is a creek, long spring or larger pond it may not as big a problem as a single point water source (guzzler, stock tank,etc) but they can and do aggressively scare native wild animals away from water and often stay by them for prolonged periods of time, keeping other species from accessing the water.  When the next water source is perhaps 10's of miles away the stress to native species can be significant.

The adpotion public adoption program administered by the Dept of Interior is a joke - not because of improper management by the BLM but because it provides a product (feral horses and donkeys) for which there is little or no active market for.  The animal rights advocates are quick to demand non lethal control methods (while not ever really accepting that control is needed) but rarely show up at the gate with check book in hand when it comes time to adopt the animals.

The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department are also creating an issue with a shoot on site eradication program by forgetting the term "management".  By attempting to completely remove an animal population instead of managing their numbers at controllable numbers they are creating a controversy.  California has done the same in regard to feral goat control on coastal islands.  In both cases, the animals have been on the ground for hundreds of years and are pretty much a natural part of the ecosystem.  We as hunters don't have to like wild horses and donkeys competing for resources with native big game species any more than a Berkley educated "naturalist" has to like spanish goats competing with native island species of the coast of S. California (can someone please remind me what those native species are?) but we should be expected to live with them as long as they are properly - read that scientifically not emotionally -- managed.

Lastly, I've heard but haven't had the opportunity to verify that donkey meat is actually pretty tastey.  There are urban non hunting epicureans who stand in line at fancy high class restaurants for a chance to eat horse meat (a favorite in some Europoean regions) but turn green at the thought of eating wild game meat we take for granted and prefer.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Interesting.  We have almost

Interesting.  We have almost the same thing happening out here in California, but I don't believe they are shooting them.  What they do is trap them on BLM property, and then they auction them off.  And, I had never thought about the conflict, but the other animal other than mule deer out here that shares their high desert terrain is the bighorn sheep.

I do think the whole drinking water from somewhere that is suffering a drought is a flimsy argument, but I guess they have their reasons.

Retired2hunt's picture

  There is no hunting of Big


There is no hunting of Big Horn Sheep within the Big Bend state park and not expected to be a healthy enough of a herd for "decades" so for the opposition to use the reasoning of rich white hunters being the party that is pushing all of this is just ridiculous.

And here we go again with the change.org people.  "In an effort to save the burros, the Wild Burro Protection League has a petition with more than 94,000 signatures asking that the killing be stopped. The organization will attempt to create legislation to protect the beasts in 2013."  Yes more legislation that will require Texas tax payer's money to protect burros - that is exactly not the answer.  It would be better if each of these 94,000+ petition signers would donate $10 each to pay to have these burros rounded up and transported to whomever would take them - the Todd Mission Ranch as they are the WBPL.  But that won't happen as it is far easier for them to just sign a petition to have others do something rather than organize and do something themselves.  Even their own petition states, "Only 5,800 wild burros are held in the protected areas managed by the BLM."  Only 5,800?  That is a lot of burrros being managed well in BLM so what is the issue with culling these animals out of this park?  I say there is no issue.

All animals need to be managed otherwise the consequences would be far worse - and then these people would be complaining about that.  I say let Texas and their Parks and Wildlife officials do what is right and cull these burrrows.



COMeatHunter's picture

Thanks for providing so much

Thanks for providing so much more detail about this issue.  When I first read the story I was thinking where's the animal rights folks, why aren't they raising a rukus about shooting the donkeys?  Upon reading your reply, well, now I know where the animal rights folks are.  Of course, they will be lobbying for legislation to stop killing donkeys on the state park.  Heck, they'll probably come up with some sort of "birth control" option to keep the donkey population "managed humanely".  Kind of comical, but not when it starts affecting how wildlife managers can do their jobs to the best of their ability.  I'm pretty sure the state park managers don't go out and shoot donkeys for fun.

And the comment about the consequences of not managing the population couldn't be more correct.  Every now and then I bump into someone (usually a well intentioned but poorly informed liberal) who finds out I hunt big game and tells me they just don't see the need for hunting anymore, that there are plenty of beef, pigs, chickens, etc., raised specifically to feed the masses.  And although I much prefer the wild game, my reply is usually something along the lines of "how do you feel about animals starving to death, or dying from rampant disease?"  Somehow the animal rights folks just don't seem to understand that there are consequences much worse than a quick and humane death and the ethical use of the meat.

But I'm not eating any donkey.  So just keep that comment to yourself, eh.