article by: Rebecca Dias

Wild roaming burros. Nevada is home to about 7,000 wild burros that roam freely on public land. They range over hundreds of miles, but never stray more than 10 miles from water.

Africa is the original home of burros where they are prized for their hardiness in arid country. Eventually, they found their way into other countries and other cultures that brought them to North America around the fifteenth century. Some of these animals were released in the West and the Southwest during the 1800's when prospectors either gave up and returned home or died. Actually, the burros did better in the harsh conditions of the West than the prospectors!

The burros turned wild and increased over the years to more than 10,000 in California, Arizona, and Nevada. Coyotes and mountain lions are the burros' only enemies. Coyotes prey on the young, the old, the crippled, and the sick. Mountain lions prey on all burros. These predators help maintain a healthy burro population.

Burros have one colt a year. The colts grow to an average weight of 350 pounds and five feet high at the shoulders. They may live up to 25 years old in the wild. They eat a variety of plants and grasses and obtain moisture from the plant material. While the moisture they receive from the plants provides them with some relief, they must still drink water. They graze during the day, but only during the night and early morning in summer.

Today the wild burros of Nevada are managed by the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971 protects, manages, and controls the burros at levels that ensure a thriving ecological balance. Every year, the BLM captures and places around 9,000 horses and burros up for adoption under the National Wild Horse and Burro Program.

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