Horse News

WILD BURRO SERIAL KILLINGS: Investigators see common theme, seek tips to find killer

By: Joe Bartels as published on

The bodies of nearly 50 wild burros have been discovered in various states of decay along a 40 mile stretch of Interstate 15 in the Mojave Desert just south of the famous Las Vegas Strip, and 8 months later authorities are still looking for the crucial tip to crack the case.

Captured BLM Wild Burros ~ by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“They are burros, they are generally pretty docile they come out in the summer out here and they’ll will be burros just standing around watering trying to survive,” said Mike Ahrens, field manager for the Bureau of Land Management in Needles, California.

Ahrens met 13 Investigates in Hollaran Springs, California, about an hour south of Las Vegas, which appears to be the epicenter for the killings.

The naturally-occurring spring has at least 20 burro bodies scattered nearby.

The scene is gruesome.

“All of the locations we have had, they’ve had pretty good vehicle access, and within a few miles of the major highway,” explained Ahrens.

The bodies have been reported and documented along the 40 mile stretch of Interstate 15 from Hollaran Springs to Primm, Nevada.

The first deaths were discovered and reported in May 2019 and investigators, at first, looked at natural causes.

“Such as [Hollaran Springs,] there is a spring and sometimes springs will get botulism or diseases in the water, so we’ve tested for that, The spring is fine,” said Ahrens.

A necropsy on the animals revealed something intentional and sinister.

Each of the 46 discovered burro bodies to date where shot in the head or neck.

“You just don’t see wild burros everday,” said Mayor Jim Eslinger of Nipton, California.

Eslinger also runs the general outpost store.

“That is one thing I love about out here, when I talk about having drive-bys, or talk about someone driving by, they decided to spend the night, not actually shooting anything or anyone,” added Eslinger.

Eslinger has a the reward sign which advertises the $100,000 bounty for information leading to an arrest in the wild burro killing case.

“I hope they’re caught,” said Eslinger.

The wild burros are federally protected and whoever is found guilty in the case could face up to 46 years, 1 year for each death, in prison.

As 13 Investigates reported in October, the reward ballooned to $100,000 after animal conservation groups and Federal authorities pooled the cash together.

Anyone with information about the shootings is asked to call (800) 782-7463 or visit Callers may remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward for information leading to the arrest(s) and conviction(s) of any person(s) responsible for the deaths of these federally protected animals.

12 replies »

  1. Good luck! I think it’s very doubtful they will ever find the perpratrators! It seems people are very tight lipped about this! I pray for their poor docile souls who wouldn’t hurt anyone! Sick, sick people! It seems there investigation is NOT a priority!
    Don’t tell me they didn’t have the bullets that were left in the bodies! And law enforcement should know what type a weapon it was. Now you know the weapon. How hard would it be to track down the people who owns the weapons! Everyone owning that weapons should be registered. Right? I feel this is just NOT a priority! So what are they doing? How.about bringing in the FBI? Wouldn’t you fo that with any other crime? Sorry I just feel this is NOT important to them! Yeah offer the money because the person or people won’t be found!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Gail, I share your frustration but you are missing a few key points. First, knowing the caliber of the bullet is useful, but not conclusive unless it is unusual in some way. Consider that even a .22 can be very deadly, and is in very common use all over the U.S. It’s also cheap, and very legal. So even assuming there is a single shooter (which is speculation), just knowing the weapon and ammunition used isn’t much to go on. Millions of people own firearms without committing crimes, so just a blanket search for weapons solves nothing.

      Then there’s the stark truth that these killings happened in Nevada. It also seems these burros weren’t shot all in one episode.I doubt there’s enough money anyone could put up that would lead to convictions for killing burros, unfortunately. What is needed is reliable first hand knowledge, or videos, or photos etc.

      Everyone should be alarmed that some person or persons have shot and killed 46 innocent and harmless burros. There’s little reason to expect they won’t one day do the same to other species, including our own.


      • Good point made here..Even though the rest of us feel furious as to what we can do to help the innocent ones. Many tears & anger for me here.


  2. MAY 17, 2018
    Park Service signs deal to round up Death Valley’s wild burros

    By Henry Brean
    Las Vegas Review-Journal

    Death Valley National Park hopes to be burro-free within the next five years.

    The National Park Service said Thursday it has entered into a contract with Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue, a Texas-based nonprofit, to round up and remove up to 2,500 wild burros from the park 100 miles west of Las Vegas.


  3. Death Valley’s Park Service Wants Them Gone. But Are Wild Donkeys Really the Enemy?

    Officials are trying to rid Death Valley National Park of burros. But are they actually helping native species flourish?

    “You go out to these sites and the only surface water are these excavations by wild burros, where they’ve dug out the soil and vegetation to make pools,” Lundgren says. “And it’s really the only water in many of these landscapes. So my first question is: What happens when you remove the animals keeping these wells open?”

    One possible answer lies in the surface springs of Nevada’s Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, a desert-wetlands preserve on the edge of Death Valley, where the majority of burros were removed in the 1990s. “One of the requirements for [the springs’] persistence is some level of disturbance,” says Astrid Kodric-Brown, a biologist with the University of New Mexico. “That disturbance may initially have come from Pleistocene mammals, she says, and later from management by Indian populations. “Exotic” herbivores like burros seem to be ensuring the springs stay open, she says, though it’s healthiest for the ecosystem at large if they don’t linger for too long.

    According to Kodric-Brown’s research, the springs were rapidly choked by fast-growing cattails and reeds following burro removal, destroying open-water habitat for endangered native fish populations. As a result, Lundgren says, “Land managers there go and manually remove wild vegetation, doing exactly what the burros were doing for free.”


  4. Death Valley’s Park Service Wants Them Gone. But Are Wild Donkeys Really the Enemy? (continued)

    These kinds of unforeseen consequences are common in conservation land management, Davis says, and the onus for environmental damage tends to be placed on non-native species rather than other factors that might be amiss in the ecosystem, like the absence of predators.

    Predation is an under-studied aspect of burro ecology, Lundgren maintains. Several publications have pegged burro population growth directly to birth rates, without recording how many foals actually survive to adulthood. “Only three of 10 peer-reviewed demography studies on horses and burros mention if there are predators in the system or not,” Lundgren says. “The lack of predation is an assumption that’s carried around without anyone explicitly testing it.”
    In the course of the 2018 and 2019 field seasons spent monitoring Death Valley field sites in areas like Willow Canyon and Mesquite Spring, Lundgren says he has found considerable evidence of predation: around 33 burro carcasses in the riparian vegetation, half of which he characterizes as undeniable kills from mountain lions. (The other half are less conclusive, but were found in close proximity to lion scat and tracks.)

    Some mountain lion trails contain skeletons from two or three burros, he adds, and the dense vegetation that springs up in the groves during the growing season may be hiding more remains. While such kills might be attributable to just a few lions, Lundgren argues, they might also be a signal that the lion population is adapting to target the largest available prey in the ecosystem, which would provide a natural check on burro populations. Some studies suggest that high levels of mountain lion predation essentially negate population growth in some wild horse herds.

    IN ORDER for this kind of natural check on burros to work, Lundgren points out, lion populations have to be healthy. In some areas of Nevada where burro populations are skyrocketing, mountain lions are shot at a certain age to protect bighorn sheep or livestock, he adds, meaning that cubs often don’t have exposure to more challenging prey. The young and inexperienced lions that remain have a hard time going after wild burros. In addition, burro herds in the park tend to shield themselves by clustering around areas of heavy human habitation, which lions tend to avoid. All these factors make it appear as if the burros have no predators, Lundgren says, but actually point to a more complicated dynamic.


  5. It has the look of a “burro cull” done by a professional marksman.

    Confessions of a Sharpshooter: How a Deer Cull Actually Works

    The last place you would expect to see an animal rights group is protesting alongside a hunters’ rights group, but that’s exactly what is happening on Long Island’s East End. When town, state, and federal authorities announced the plan to remove as many as 3,000 deer from the local population, it polarized the community–and created unlikely allies. This is the first landscape-level cull in the region, and it has certainly garnered its share of opposition.


  6. Didn’t you ever consider this is an inside job? Our BLM and FSIS are all pro slaughter as appointed by trump. I have no hope for anything good for ANY animals until they’re voted out.

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Heber Wild Horses


      Today we were told by Arizona Game and Fish Department Officer Bob Birkeland that the Forest Service will be releasing the Heber Wild Horse Territory management plan draft to the media this Friday with the release to the general public most likely coming out on Monday.
      This is such a critical time for Arizona’s Heber Wild Horse Herd because implementation of a Heber Wild Horse Territory management plan is required in order for the FOREST SERVICE TO DO A HERD CULL.
      We all have to be ready to be the voices for these horses when the official public comment period opens.


    • Free-Living Animals on Birth Control
      by LEE HALL

      Not only does contraception erase animals by preventing their offspring from existing; the science itself kills. For researchers at Cornell University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 21 white-tailed deer were captured, ear-tagged and collared, and kept in a fenced area at an army depot, with some subjected to multiple contraceptive vaccines.
      In October 2000, all were “humanely killed,” wrote the researchers,
      “by a shot to the head or neck from a high-powered rifle fired from a blind or a vehicle.”

      Liked by 1 person

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