Wild Burros Are Being Used to Protect Livestock in Colorado
When it was announced that wolves were being reintroduced to the state, a valid concern for many Colorado ranchers was having to worry about these predatory animals attacking their livestock.
It's fair for livestock owners to be upset, especially Don Gittleson, who experienced three depredation events at his Walden ranch due to wolves. The attacks occurred in December 2021 and January 2022.
To help combat this issue, Colorado Parks and Wildlife recently launched a pilot program in Jackson County, in which they are using wild burros to help protect livestock from wolf depredations. This prevention method has proven itself successful in other states, such as Oregon.
CPW recently delivered six burros to Gittleson's Walden property. The hope is that the burros - two gelded jacks and four jennies, will eventually become bonded with the existing herd of cattle that resides on the ranch. Once this happens, CPW explains the burros will view the cattle as family and in turn, protect them when they are faced with a threat.
Burros are pros at defending themselves against predators like coyotes and mountain lions in the wild. Their defense mechanisms work so well, it usually successfully scares these types of aggressive animals away. These intelligent creatures take time to assess a situation and decide whether it's dangerous enough to run or stick it out and fight. Furthermore, when they do stay and defend themselves, wild burros will not show their pain until they are critically injured.
The burros that were taken to Walden were originally living in the high country in Nevada but had been in Utah when CPW Wildlife Officer Zach Weaver adopted them to bring back to Gittleson. Their prior living location was important because CPW wanted burros that were already accustomed to surviving at a high elevation. The six burros range in age from five to eleven years old.
Gittleson is expected to monitor the burros on his property and provide feedback to CPW regarding the frequency he witnesses wolves on his ranch. This will help wildlife officials determine if using burros is a method that should continue to be used throughout Colorado.