Texas Parks and Wild Life Slaughter Burros on State Park


Texas’s Big Bend State Park was the scene last fall of a horrendous slaughter by state officials of some 71 wild burros. The state employees were granted the “privilege” of picking off the defenseless creatures by sniper fire, in the name of “cleansing” the park of nonnative species—so as to “protect” native wildlife and water resources.

Last time I checked, burros were not a predatory species, and if they drank so much water they were going to kill everything else in the park, there was still the option of allowing a horse rescue group to come in and save the burros (as the Texas-based Wild Horse Foundation apparently wanted to do).Here’s part of the story about last year’s slaughter of 71 burros, as told by the Big Bend Sentinel:

Criticism has been lobbed at the agency for the relative quiet in which the policy was carried out at Big Bend Ranch, and there have been questions as to why alternate methods of removal were not attempted.”The management of burros is a complicated issue,” state Sierra Club Director Ken Kramer said Wednesday. “No one likes to see them killed, and other means of dealing with the animals are preferred whenever practical.”As a part of its internal report issued last week, Parks and Wildlife includes a Sierra Club policy from 1981 that endorses the culling and management of feral burros to protect habitat for indigenous animals.Burro management methods must be humane, it states. Helicopters may be necessary for management strategies and “the use of firearms by competent federal agencies or their appointees is a humane method of direct reduction of feral burro populations.”

I was forwarded an E-mail distributed by Wild Horse Foundation Executive Director Ray Field, in which he says:

On June 18, 2008, the Executive Director of the Wild Horse Foundation Ray Field met with Texas Parks and Wild Life Director Walt Dabney in Austin on the shooting of Burros in Big Bend State Park last fall and how to help assist to alleviate more issues with the killing. The two discussed that since the Wild Horse Foundation as a non-profit organization can adopt the wild burros into homes can help in this area but the State was not willing to pay for any assistance for the gathering. [ sic]

If the Texas Parks and Wildlife can pay for staff time and ammunition to slaughter burros, why can’t those same staff and equipment expenditures be used instead to support the nonprofit Wild Horse Foundation to round up the burros and find them adoptive homes? Tom Harvey, news and information director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, sent me an E-mail that included the following information:

Lethal removal of burros at Big Bend Ranch State Park has been suspended to give live capture efforts an opportunity to work. We are attempting to reduce numbers of aoudad sheep…through public hunting and staff removal.

This is good news for the burros (but terrible news for the sheep, of course). It would be great news if those efforts were put in place permanently and if the department found a rescue group that has the ability to rescue all the burros that would otherwise be slaughtered by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials. Only public pressure will push the department to ban all burro slaughter in the future.

Ray Field met with Mike Hill, Regional Superintendent for follow up investigation.



Texas Big Bend Ranch State Park project

cut and paste this link below into your web browser bar.


More information being added

“”- TPWD State Parks Division Director Walt Dabney did meet with Ray Fields in June and told him that our agency would welcome his efforts to round up burros and remove them for adoption. Mr. Fields was invited to contact our state parks regional office in Ft. Davis and set up a site visit to access the potential to round up burros. - Walt and others have expressed that TPWD is very interested in volunteer offers to try to capture live burros and would like to see that succeed. However, this effort has to be a long term commitment, as the problem will likely reoccur. “”

Plans to be added soon………

Special Project Donors Section coming soon…..

Thanks so far and growing, Jim and Jane Klein,  Ray and Susan Field, Tim and Debi Sutter

First day and we’re stuck.  Mike Hill, Regional Director and Ray Field spend the entire day, all day in this one spot. No Burros here.

I took off walking, and where Mr. Hill states there are no other entrances to Smith station I find 4-wheelers tracks, makes a person think!

Old building at Smith Station, old stage coach relay

Mr. Hill tells me we have to take off walking to see these Burros in hidden places and trails so off we go to the hidden valleys, opps, NO BURROS!

Well, on the left is Mexico, and the right is Texas , where’s the  Border patrol for Burro’s!

Did find plenty of Aoudad’s

Found some beautiful deer out here for the Big Game hunter’s!

Whoop’s we found One Burro after driving around for 2 days, well , saw some tracks of about 2- 3 where they came and went. Then we came up on the lonely Jenny.

I was able to walk up on her and follow her for about a 1/2 mile and she lives in this one valley area.  Now for the amazing thing.  Look at the neck.  This is a KILL Burro from the BLM. NO the BLM did not put it here.  They sent this burro to some one who purchased it under the sell authority law.  They didn’t want so they DUMPED her here on State Park land.       I found one of her bedding spots and another behind me in this picture.  The water for her is just straight out from this picture forward about a quarter of a mile.

I went out there with intention to put out salt licks to start getting Burros to stay in a trap area.  Mr. Hill did not have that on his agenda for me, so when I left out on Sunday, I made many stops in my car, where he thought only his truck would go and achieved this goal.  I grew up knowing its not what you drive but how you drive it that gets you where you need to go. 4 wheel drive gets you stuck that much deeper.  I was there.   Never drive a tank in the mountains!

This is a trap left by another rescue group, loaded with no food or water so that if any animal gets in it there dead and no way out.  While Mr. Hill and I were there he made a note to have his Park crew come and disengage this since the other non-profit was not monitoring it.  It was still a live trap when I left. Danegerous.

Pen trap door still working, as any animal walks in the door falls back closes, preventing them from leaving, no food or water in this trap.

This was the old alfalfa left in the trap, rotten, full of mud.

Do you really think Burros are coming across the Rio Grande River?

Swift water Burros is what I would call these and if they make it let them stay!

As I made visit with Mr. Hill and Staff of Big Bend Ranch State Park all were extremely polite.  They were all concern with readying the Park for the Open House set for the October 18, 2008 for Press and Public to ensure that BBRSP was Open and ready to serve the Public.

From my observation not enough burros tracks existed at this time to make any determination on the number that needed to be removed.  Neither Mr. Hill or I saw any Burros but this ONE! We went to every spot he claimed there were sighting and that in the past they were located, NONE were sited.  

It is my recommendation that at this time another appointment be set up so that when the BBRSP is NOT green with vegetation and so plentiful with water we can make a better determination of exactly the Burro population.

Mr. Hill has been handed a State Park that is extremely under funded .  They will be purchasing another 7,000 acres for 2.5 million dollars to enclosed the entire border area.

You can drive 26 miles into this Park and drop any unwanted livestock you wish anywhere and not be seen doing this.  There are no range fences for 3 counties, wild cows are as common as mountain cats, pigs, rabbits..

Mr. Hill indicated to me that they do round up the Long Horn cattle and sell that at the sell barn periodically.  They also use the longhorns for the spring cattle drive fund raiser for the park.  You can pay to round up cattle and drive these little doggies for a 3-5 day horse back ordeal.

It’s taken the State 20 years to get a direction and I think we should continue to allow the State to follow this but should encourage the State to use a oversight panel and not the Commission currently set up.      

Mr. Hill will continue to have my support on the Burro issue as long as he continues to works with the non-profits as he has.


If you any comments of suggestion for me on how I can further assist this situation please let me know.  email me at grfield@wildhorsefoundation.org 

Remember we can only help this by your donation.

© Copyright 1995-2015 Wild Horse Foundation.  WILD HORSE FOUNDATION is a trademark of the Wild Horse Foundation.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  P. O. Box 692, Franklin, Texas 77856