FORT IRWIN, Calif. — Some, not all, of the (mostly) beloved burros at the National Training Center will be removed, as a part of a project to provide a safer, healthier environment for the small donkeys.
There are more than 1,000 burros estimated to be on our military installation and they’ve been a staple of Fort Irwin for decades and were first introduced to the Western Hemisphere in 1493. Their range extends from Death Valley/China Lake in the northern area, all the way to the Mojave Preserve, to the South. Those who have live at Fort Irwin for more than a decade say summer of 2018 marks the most donkeys they’ve ever seen on post.
The Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue (PVDR) has begun a process that involves thinning out some of the burro population from the Fort Irwin National Training center and the NASA Goldstone Deep Space Communications Center, near Death Valley National Park. The last time there was a joint agency effort to remove burros from the range, was in 1996. The remaining burros re-populated the range and doubled their population every four years.
Residents haven’t seen many burros during the winter months, as they tend to migrate more toward the training areas and are in danger of being hit by munitions and interrupting rotations.
When the burros are in town, they run the risk of being hit by vehicles are in restricted areas. They can also provide unsightly or health hazards through their excretions.
PVDR helps round up the animals to provide safe and loving environments for donkeys that have been abused, neglected, abandoned and are wild, like the ones on our post.
The burros will be captured in the most humane manner and will either be adopted or live at one of their many sanctuaries and receive medical care for life. One donkey can be adopted for $350 or $500.
“Our main objective is to protect our Wild Burros,” PVDR Executive Director, Mark Meyers said.
“If they must be removed, we want to ensure that it is done safely with as little stress possible.”
Burros will be caught with water or bait trapping and will be microchipped once captured.
The removal of some of the burros is an advantage for them for many reasons. Their safety will no longer be a concern due to weapons training and car accidents; their environment will improve because they will be moved to ‘greener’ locations with grass and vegetation; and that will, in turn, improve their health, increasing their life expectancy from just 20 years, to up to 50 years old.
PVDR’s Veterinary Team will also study the health issues faced by both wild burros and their transition to domestic life. Their Environmental Team will study the positive and negative effects of burros on the desert ecosystem.
Burros are protected under the 1971 Free Roaming Horse and Burro Protection Act but that protection does not extend onto National Parks or Military Installations.
The thinning out of the burros will occur slowly but steadily over the next five years.