Protect Wild Burros in Nevada

Target: Steve Williams, District Ranger, Austin Ranger District

Goal: Prevent U.S. Forest Service from removing wild burros from the Hickison Wild Burro Territory near Austin, Nevada

Have you ever seen a wild burro? Chances are, probably not: there are only about 5,800 wild burros left on federal lands in the American West. A proposed action by the Forest Service, however, would remove 80% of the burro population in the Hickison Wild Burro Territory (WBT) and establish “an Allowable Management Level (AML) of just 16-45 burros for this area.” The removal of burros and the maintenance of such a small population, however, could compromise the well-being of the herd rather than protecting it. Sign the petition and ask the Forest Service to reconsider its plan to remove burros from the Hickison WBT.

The Forest Service’s current plan would create “a ratio of 1 burro per 2,444 acres.” While this may initially sound promising–plenty of room for burros to roam!–it creates more problems than it solves. According to the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), the ratio threatens already-vulnerable burro populations, as it is “too low to maintain genetic viability.” Burro populations are already scarce and “scattered,” and further enforcing the isolation of certain groups of burros will only weaken existing populations further. Furthermore, the AWHPC points out, the low populations might prove disappointing for human users of the lands who enjoy seeing the burros in their natural habitat.

Wild burros are an important part of the heritage and landscape of the American West. Sign the petition and help ensure that the burro population remains strong for years to come.


Dear Mr. Williams,

Wild burros, despite their dwindling populations, remain an important image of the American West. That’s why the Forest Service’s proposed changes to the management of the burro population on the Hickison Wild Burro Territory (WBT) are so worrisome. I urge you to reconsider the Forest Service’s proposed plan.

While the plan was obviously not proposed with the intention of harming the already-fragile burro populations on the Hickison WBT, it could do just that. The new plan would set an Allowable Management Level (AML) of a mere 16-45 burros for the entire area, making the land-to-burro ratio a whopping 2,444 acres for each burro. It is undoubtedly important for the burros to be able to move about freely, but such a vast amount of land populated by so few burros could actually do more harm than good; the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) points out that the number is “too low to maintain genetic viability,” a problem that the dwindling burro population has already encountered.  The low number would also make it more difficult for visitors to spot burros, which could prove disappointing for those hoping to catch a glimpse of these iconic western animals. The AWHPC suggests researching the herd’s ability to self-regulate its population through access to resources and, if these results do not prove satisfactory, to “utilize PZP fertility control, which has been used successfully in wild burro populations.”

Please do not let wild burros become more of a rarity than they already are. Reconsider the Forest Service’s plan for the Hickison WBT.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Ecirphr via Wikimedia Commons

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