Excerpted from “The Donkey Refuge Where Burros Become Coyote-Kicking Livestock Guardians“, by Abbey Perreault, Sept. 25, 2018, Atlas Obscura.
The plight of the American donkey is a strange one—the animal has been simultaneously federally protected and completely overlooked. — Mark Meyers
DESPITE SEVERAL LARGE removal efforts, “wild” donkeys, or burros, are abundant in the Mojave Desert. Seeking shade, they crowd beneath trees, buildings, and, on occasion, incredibly important NASA satellites. But donkey interference, as silly as it sounds, extends far beyond the day-to-day disruption of space scientists. According to Mark Meyers, executive director of Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue (PVDR), there are too many donkeys in America, and we simply don’t know what to do with them.
“Places like Death Valley, the Mojave National Preserve, Fort Irwin, and the Naval Air Weapons Station [China Lake] all have giant donkey populations,” says Meyers. “There’s just no burro money to manage them.”
That’s where Meyers comes in. Peaceful Valley, the largest rescue organization of its kind, has recently been tasked with removing thousands of donkeys from national parks across the country. Meyers spends his days venturing into these donkey hot zones, catching them using humane water traps (an enclosed space with water, food, and no exit), and bringing them to his Texas headquarters.
But what does one do with tens of thousands of formerly feral donkeys? Historically, not too much. But Meyers and his team are working to change that.
At PVDR, donkeys are sorted, taken to donkey school, and given a new life, often as companion donkeys or pets. But burros with a wild side, it turns out, are huge boons for ranchers across the U.S. seeking effective, humane ways to protect their herds. With the help of PVDR, unwanted “wild” donkeys are becoming guardians, set out to pasture with goats, sheep, and even cattle, to keep them safe from predators.
• PVDR Where Donkeys Become Protectors, pdf full article, 5 pp (no images)