Wild Burros Providing Water for Wildlife

In far-West Texas, a coalition of government agencies, agricultural universities and conservation organizations has decided that wild burros on public lands should be eradicated. The coalition based its decision on the belief that what the burros are doing in the video above harms wildlife – especially Desert Bighon Sheep and Desert Mule Deer – and all habitat. This belief reflects the fundamental disagreement between Big Wildlife and holistic thinkers such as Aldo Leopold over this question: In nature, do species such as burros and wolves compete with or complement other species and the system in general?

Burros like those in the video were eradicated at Big Bend Ranch State Park because, it was said, they spoiled water for other species by digging holes.  Here is the “Rest of the Story” concerning burros and water.

 See also: Circle Ranch Burros from Christopher Gill on Vimeo

Wild burros at Circle Ranch are completely compatible with other animals, including bighorn, whose terrain they avoid.

Posted by Chris Gill

Ranching, wildlife management, finance, oil & gas, real estate development and management.

  1. I had no idea wild burros would dig down like that in a dry creek bed for water. Very interesting video. Looks like those Cattle benefited from their instinctive behavior. Although I guess they’d compete for forage it looks like the benefits of having them out weigh any perceived negative impact.


    1. Over and over, ‘competitive’ species turn out to be ‘complimentary’. The complexity of these systems far exceed our ability to understand them. Over and over, eradications of so-called ‘invasive species’ (many of which including burros are natives) wind up harming the specific species they are sincerely meant to protect – and many others we never thought about. My takeaway is that agronomic principles applied to ecological systems will almost always cause harm.


  2. Personally, I would be hesitant to eradicate an animal that God himself used to communicate with someone who was in error. See Numbers 21:21ff. Excellent point and video. Thank you for sharing.


    1. Yes there is an amazing arrogance implied by these attacks on biodiversity.

      Thanks for commenting.


  3. Wonderful video. Are the burros are getting down to enough water that all these animals are actually able to drink a bit?


    1. I cannot say for sure but I think so. For me the major insight from the video is that all of these animals are using this water in ways that increases it for all of the other animals. In other words, these species are “complementary”.

      The mainstream view is that every one of the species “competes”.

      So, there is the take away: are multiple species competitive, or, complementary?


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