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Wild Donkeys Being Shot In Big Bend State Park

Photo by Alan English
A photo of some burros in Arizona. Texas state parks officials have been shooting wild donkeys in Big Bend State Park to prevent them from damaging native species, angering the Wild Burro Protection League.

Wild donkeys, also known as burros, are wandering into Texas from Mexico. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department considers about 300 burros in Big Bend to be destructive intruders that hog food and water needed by the park's native species.  

Brent Leisure with Texas State Parks and Wildlife says they’re dealing with the problem by hunting the burros.

“We’re managing for indigenous native plant and animal communities, and that not being a part of it, we do know that the burros have a negative impact and effect on native wildlife and plants,” Leisure said.

Opponents say the state is more concerned about a few dozen bighorn sheep living in the 316,000 acre park. Hunting licenses for bighorn sheep sell for upwards of $100,000, and skeptics say the state is catering to wealthy and well-connected hunters.

However, the hunting of Big Horn Sheep has not been permitted in Big Bend Park.

In an effort to save the burros, the Wild Burro Protection League has a petition with more than 94,000 signatures asking that the killing be stopped. The organization will attempt to create legislation to protect the beasts in 2013.

Joey Palacios is a reporter with Texas Public Radio, an NPR member station in San Antonio.