Horse News

Wild Burros Inadvertently Save Life Of Hiker Lost In Death Valley National Park

Posted on National Parks Traveler

“The burros have never had it easy with our government agencies…”

A group of feral burros inadvertently saved the life of a hiker lost in Death Valley National Park by leading him to water.

A group of burros, like this one near the Wild Rose area of Death Valley, helped a lost hiker stay alive in the park's backcountry/NPS file photo.

A group of burros, like this one near the Wild Rose area of Death Valley, helped a lost hiker stay alive in the park’s backcountry/NPS file photo.

Park officials said the unidentified man set out for a hike on May 5 at Saline Valley Dunes, an area in the northwestern corner of the park that you need a four-wheel-drive rig to reach. Four days later, rangers received word that a white pickup truck had been parked there for several days.

“Rangers searched the area on Sunday but were unable to locate anyone associated with the truck. Through investigation, they determined that it had been rented by a single person and had not been returned by the rental contract’s termination date,” noted District Ranger J.D. Updegraff. “On Monday, the Beverly Hills Police Department checked at the man’s home and confirmed that he was overdue and a search was begun.”

This past Tuesday, around 10 a.m., the man was found roughly five miles from his vehicle and to the east of the dune complex.

“The man reportedly set out alone for a day hike on the morning of Tuesday, May 5th, and became disoriented. Unable to find his way back to his vehicle, he followed a group of burros to a watering hole where he subsisted until rescue arrived,” the district ranger reported. “The man was transported to Northern Inyo Hospital where he is being treated for second degree sunburn and a rhabdomyolysis,” a disease in which muscles breakdown.

24 replies »

  1. And how will they be thanked? Rounded up and sent to hard labor or death in a slaughter house. That’s the way of man….


  2. Wow, who knew animals had a strong instinct for survival and an innate understanding of nature? apparently not the BLM or they wouldnt be working to eradicate all wild horses and burros.


    • Well said, Amanda! Maybe this man will be a new recruit to the cause of trying to save the wild burros and horses from our corrupt, greedy government. The BLM certainly doesn’t find them useful other than as a way to rake in millions of dollars from American taxpayers “to take care of them” annually.


  3. There are a couple of things that get my gizzard in this article. One, why do they have to be feral? When was the last time a muletrain or donkey train, gold prospector or packing trip escaped out there? Two, when will media get an education. I realize we live in a specialized world – but being welll read used to be a “requirement” to speak intelligently. Three, where is there any thanks for the burros being kind enough to lead this man to water. And Four – when did rangers stop knowing their parks well enough to NOT see a WHITE car parked in the same spot for four days? Too busy practicing rescues?


    • Jan, I have come to realize “feral” is the new “N” word, with similar deprecating nuances for those to whom the label is applied.


      • Nevada Law re: “feral”
        569.008. “Feral livestock” defined
        “Feral livestock” means any formerly domesticated livestock or progeny of domesticated livestock which have become wild and are running at large upon public or private lands in the State of Nevada, and which have no physical signs of domestication. The term does NOT include horses or burros that are subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal Government pursuant to the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1331 to 1340, inclusive, and any regulations adopted pursuant thereto, or any other federal statute or regulation.

        Click to access nevada.pdf


  4. Hmm, I wonder how different this story would be if a BLM employee got lost instead… “All of the jenneys were pregnant.” “One jenny had triplets.” “A jack aimed for my jugular.” “The herd sipped the lake dry.” “When I finally got back, my truck had two cracks in the windshield and hoofprint dents all over it.” LOL!


    • Yep, that would be the Bloody BLM spin on it. The man was smart enough to know the burros are smarter than humans. They deserve an award not a permanent stay in BLM Hell Holding facilities.


  5. This person and all his family and friends should be fighting to save wild burros today and forever … I hope they are.


  6. Here is what our National Park service thinks about our wild burros after “all” of the burros were killed off in Death Valley about 30 years ago:
    “To make sure wild burros do not return to Death Valley, Park Service rangers beginning July 1, 1987 were authorized to KILL any stragglers they encounter while on patrol.”


  7. I have a mini donkey and have had him since he was 6 months old. He is now 9 years old. Yes, there is something special and unique about donkeys. They do some things like a horse and in some ways they are totally different. My donkey lost his best friend, a 35 year old horse last May 31. Horse died natural death with us by his side with the donkey. We left them alone for 1 hour before burying the horse. When we returned to the barn the donkey was crying real tears streaming down his face. We buried the horse in the pasture and the donkey would go to his grave every morning for 3 months and rear and bray. He still goes to the grave in the mornings but no longer brays but hangs his head in silence for a few moments. Just got another horse 2 months ago, a 2 year old, now gelding big boy. The donkey wouldn’t let the new horse near the grave for a week. Now they go to the grave together in the morning. I am not saying horses wouldn’t react the same way in the manner I described for this situation but in other ways they very different. I have deep love and respect for both. It doesn’t surprise me they helped this man to water.


  8. This is disgusting to read that the BLM again wishes to round up the wild ones, the horses and burros. There in reality is plenty of land for our precious wild ones. The public lands are for the wild ones and not for priorities being given to the huge cattle industry which are private businesses. All this this must change, why does the government continue to drag its feet on these issues. Its abuse, simple abuse, the horses and burros have every right to live on the public lands.


      • Thank you for posting this clip & giving everyone a sincere reality check here… Many ughs! Everyone needs to absorb this information & face the truth & reality re: the innocent ones & the horrific abuse that they endure at the hands of mankind & our government agencies who are supposed to protect them??? So, I was recently reminded that the word “humane” was derived from the word “human”?? Does that really apply to the BLM?? Just wondering?? Hurrah once again for Declan Gregg (from Greenland NH), who continues to be such an amazing young man to SPEAK UP LOUD & CLEAR to be a huge voice for ALL HORSES!! So Very Proud of Him!! & his parents & grandparents who taught him all about values that sincerely matter in this wacky world….. MY HERO for certain!!!!


  9. You see? Wild horses and burros, and other wild animals, are a lot better equipped for life in the wild than we think they are, despite the prevailing attitudes. Just because we can’t survive as well, doesn’t mean other creatures cannot!


  10. He should write a letter to the President to tell his story and ask that wild burros and horses be allowed to live free on their native ranges. There are only 9,000 wild burros left in this huge country. They aren’t hurting anyone and they are good Samaritans. Leave them alone BLM, Sally Jewell and special interests!


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