If you were hiking through Big Bend Ranch State Park, which animal would you prefer to catch a glimpse of – a wild burro or a bighorn sheep?


It’d be cool to glimpse either animal in their natural habitat, but I guess I’d go with the bighorn sheep.

Big game hunters with deep pockets don’t even ponder that question. They want to see bighorn sheep. And then shoot them.

Park officials appreciate those revenue-generating hunters. So, to keep bighorn sheep plentiful, Texas Parks & Wildlife employees kill the wild burros. Shoot them on sight, even though there are only a few hundred left.

Animal lovers created an online petition to stop the slaughter.

“The parks department is systematically killing these animals to ensure a supply of bighorn sheep for trophy hunters,” Animal Law Coalition executive director Laura Allen, who is supporting the campaign at “They are simply eliminating wild burros in yet another giveaway of America’s protected natural resources to special interests; it is an abuse of power and animal cruelty.”

I called the state parks department for comment but the person they directed me to hasn’t returned my phone call.


  1. Grasslands were severely over grazed and many species of animals extirpated by ruthless hunting before the state and national parks were created over 50 years ago. The Parks have done a good job of re-introducing native bighorns and antelope. The escaped domestic burro is a direct threat to these species in an already fragile ecosystem. It may appear cruel, but I vote always for the survival of our native wildlife. The well-intentioned people who think otherwise are misguided and probably the same who think songbird populations aren’t affected by feral cats.
    Good reporting, Jeff.

  2. It seems the burros are not escaped domestic burros at all. Furthermore, they are a native species driven away around the 1920s and re-introduced to their native land later on. These killings are a horrific abuse of animals, land, and the public trust.

  3. Texas Parks and Wildlife has provided not one bit of evidence that the wild burros have harmed anything in the Big Bend Region. The burros have existed there for centuries. It is the height of irresponsibility to remove a species present for so long without appropriately conducting scientific studies on how such a removal will impact ecosystems. There are many cases where such foolhardy acts have had unintended consequences far more harmful to the ecosystem. What Texas Parks and Wildlife is doing is irresponsible, and they’ve gained the support of many of their citizens by their simplistic argument that non-native species must die. It would be really great if people would recognize these are thinking, feeling animals, not plants or tiny microbes. It would be really great if people would recognize that these animals have served humans for thousands of years. We brought them here, we used them and now we’ve deemed them dispensable and will kill them for their mere existence. This is wrong in many ways, and it is very very sad that people like Big Bend “Lover” are in favor of this horrible and ignorant, misguided policy.