The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:
This May is #BurroAwarenessMonth. Burros are amazing animals — intelligent, social and highly adapted to their often harsh and rugged desert habitats. Like wild horses, wild burros are protected under federal law as “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West.”
AWHC created Burro Awareness Month to shine a spotlight on our nation’s wild burros, who don’t get the same level of attention as wild horses, but are just as incredible and historic.
As we close out the month, we wanted to share the stories of two very special burros: Herbie and Papa Antonio, one no longer wild and one still free, each touched by the same challenges facing all wild burros under the management of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
Meet Herbie and The Herd Many Of You Recently Defended
Herbie is a wild burro who calls the BLM’s Black Mountain Herd Management Area (HMA) in Arizona his home. Black Mountain is the largest HMA in the state, comprising more than 1 million acres of public lands, and it is also home to the largest and most genetically diverse burro population in the country.
PJ Kaszas is a wildlife and documentary photographer who co-founded the Wild Horse Photography Collective and Bonkers for Burros, two fast growing communities of photographers dedicated to advocating for wild horses and burros (and we’re proud to partner with many of them!).
PJ went to photograph the Black Mountain burros, who can be difficult to find, due to both the large expanse of desert and terrain they live in and because the burros blend so well in to this environment.
When interacting with wildlife, it’s important to respect their space and keep your distance. That’s what makes this encounter all the more unique: Herbie actually approached PJ, and while PJ kept a distance of 75 feet or so, Herbie wasn’t bothered by the camera and actually went on to guide PJ over the course of three days throughout the Black Mountain HMA.
Herbie greeted old friends, interacted with some rivals, and even showed PJ where he and other burros go to forage, grab a drink, and rest.
You can read more about PJ’s experiences with Herbie and see more photos here. Additionally, we wanted to thank you: Late March we launched an action alert about the Bureau of Land Management Plan to remove 75% of the burros, like Herbie, from this area.
Thousands of you stepped up to raise your voices and we had one of our largest showings of force in defense of burros in recent memory.
Rescuing Papa Antonio And Finding Him A Forever Home
One of the unfortunate realities of the federal mass roundup/removal program is that many captured wild burros and horses, especially those who are older or injured or have health complications, are at risk of ending up in kill pens or being dumped after being sold for $25 or less.
That was potentially going to happen to Papa Antonio, a 21-year old burro who caught the eye of our Nevada Field Rep., Deb Walker, who noticed him in the BLM’s online auction earlier this year. AWHC contacted our friends at the Center for Animal Protection & Education (CAPE) to see if they would take him to live with their herd of seven rescued burros and two rescued horses. CAPE said yes!
Last year, Papa Antonio was trapped and removed from the BLM’s Seven Troughs HMA, located 75 miles northeast of Reno. He was sent to the Carson City prison, where he spent eight months in a holding pen and was put up for auction in February.
AWHC was pleased to partner with CAPE to rescue him. Since March, when CAPE picked him up from the BLM holding facility in Nevada, Papa Antonio has become a very affectionate little burro, and is now fully integrated with CAPE’s rescue herd.
We’re working to ensure all wild burros can spend their golden years on public lands, but the next best place for a burro like Papa Antonio is with CAPE. Watch his transformation here.
We hope you enjoyed digitally meeting Herbie and Papa Antonio. Here at AWHC, we treat every month as if it were #BurroAwarenessMonth, because all of our treasured wild burros deserve to live on the wide open ranges with their families, safe from roundups and free from the grim fate of a crowded holding facility, or worse slaughter.
American Wild Horse Campaign