story By Patrick Beach of the the Austin Statesman.com
Over 100,000 Petitions Delivered to Lt. Governor after Perry Slap-DownAt a Statehouse dominated by elephants, the donkey got some love in a short parade in downtown Austin on Wednesday.
The occasion was a protest of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department‘s shoot-to-kill policy concerning feral burros in Big Bend Ranch State Park. Marjorie Farabee , founder of the Wild Burro Protection League and director at the Wild Horse Freedom Federation, had a helper drop some 103,000 petitions against shooting the burros at Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s office.
“Because Gov. Perry’s office refused authorization of delivery,” Farabee said. “Be sure you write that.”
Farabee and about 15 of her fellow protesters rode or led six donkeys — the recalcitrant Nancy refused to budge from the parking lot where the group’s parade started — for a few blocks from a nearby staging area to the Capitol. The group takes issue with the state’s position that the burros are non-native and that most of the animals were abandoned from ranches in nearby Mexico or are descendants of those animals.
The state further argues that the burros’ presence is a threat to indigenous species in a fragile ecosystem, trampling food and fouling scarce water resources. The state’s policy is to trap or kill the animals. But because of their intelligence, burros are easier to drop with a rifle than to catch.
Farabee’s side says the practice is all about making more room for bighorn sheep — hunting permits for which go for the low six figures at auction — and other prized game animals. Farabee says about 130 burros have been killed at the park since the practice resumed in 2010. The herd is estimated at 200 to 300 head.
With Department of Public Safety motorcycle officers as escorts, the group headed down Lavaca Street at noon, cut over to Congress Avenue via 16th Street and halted at the north side of the Capitol.
“Hey, there’s jackasses in there already — let ‘em go,” said supporter Susan Nelson of Gainesville.
(Better that they didn’t try. With all that tack, it’d take forever to get the donkeys through the metal detectors at the main south entrance.)
“I can’t see how anybody could shoot these teddy bears,” said Nelson, whose daughter, Waco veterinarian Jennifer Garretson, rode one of the beasts. “If it wasn’t for the donkey, Texas wouldn’t be here.”
Garretson criticized state officials for failing to recruit properly qualified people in past failed attempts at rounding the burros up.
“There are plenty of people willing and able to corral them,” Garretson said. “I’m not going to tolerate shooting donkeys.”
On their way to the statehouse, Farabee, driving a donkey named Miss Abby and pulling a wagon that contained the box of petitions, turned to one of her trooper escorts and asked, “Could you shoot one of these?”
The trooper shook his head and said no.
On the Web
Read a Texas Parks & Wildlife Department’s statement on burros at Big Bend Ranch State Park at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/burros.
Read the Wild Burro Protection League’s rebuttal on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/zwRGrT.
- Burros to Deliver Petitions to Governor Rick Perry (rtfitchauthor.com)
- Texas Wild Burros Getting Stubborn Allies (rtfitch.wordpress.com)
- No Fences on Perry’s Texas Border, but They Shoot Immigrant Burros (rtfitch.wordpress.com)
- West Texas Wild Burro Controversy Flares Again for Texas Parks (rtfitch.wordpress.com)
- Texas Is Shooting Donkeys, Stirring Burro Backlash (abcnews.go.com)