Baby burros at play in Oatman, AZ. Did you know that Oatman is located inside of the Black Mountain herd management area (HMA)? The burros that travel into town are regulars and tame. But, they come from the burros who have remained wild on the HMA. It is not ideal that wild burros are offered food and made tame, but the case of Oatman, AZ burros is unique. This town dried up when the gold mines dried up. It was a ghost town, but the burros who wandered the streets on famous Route 66 became the draw for tourist from around the world. The people of Oatman have promoted their unique position as a town with burros and because of this a ghost town came to life. The Oatman burros have provided tourist from around the world with a positive AZ experience. Because of the Oatman, Arizona burros, people have come in contact with these mesmerizing and fascinating animals in a very positive way.
The same could be true for all the public lands in AZ that have wild burros. If AZ could take off their jaded glasses and look at the burros in a different way. If they looked at the wild burros as a rare asset that is not often found in the world they would realize the burros are a living gold mine to the residents of AZ. Wild burros, nature, these are the things AZ has in abundance, yet the golden goose for tourism is pilloried instead. It is astonishing really. How can people be so jaded that they do not recognize the value of the burros and nature that surrounds them? People want to see wild burros living in their environment.
Unfortunately, the fact is that a negative campaign has been waged on the burros by big game and ranching. The tourism dollars brought in by people traveling to AZ to see nature and experience wild burros is never taken into account. How many people are able to afford the big game aspect of the outdoor experience? The number of affluent hunters able to drop thousands of dollars to buy a permit to kill sought after big game do not compare in numbers to the tourists who come to enjoy nature. Without question, the numbers of these patrons is minuscule in comparison to the number of people who travel to see nature including the burros. These large numbers impact the communities of AZ in a more significant way than the small number of affluent hunters who buy the permits. The tourists are the spenders who rent hotels, buy meals at restaurants, swoop up souvenirs and book flights and rental vehicles. Despite this, wildlife departments like AZ Game and Fish department are more heavily influenced by the affluent hunters than they are the tourists who are the real bread and butter to the residents of AZ.
Big game hunting organizations believe every blade of grass eaten by the burros should go to their game animals. As a result the agencies that are supposed to protect nature and wildlife, are doing extreme harm instead. The lack of diversity is harming the land and the decisions to kill and remove non-game animals is impacting the local economies who rely on tourist who come to AZ to see nature and wildlife. Arizona Game and Fish department (AZGF) manage the public lands for hunters, and make wildlife decisions based on the belief that any wildlife that is not a game animal should not allowed to use water or eat forage. AZGF needs a wake up call from tourists and the tourism industry of AZ. Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake as well as the Board of Supervisors of Mohave County also need a wake up call from businesses who want tourism dollars. These elected officials are not representing the needs of their constituents.
The babies in this video are really adorable. I hope we are able to save the natural places for them to grow up in and call home.