An Educational Burro
By Larry Hyslop
Dora the burro and Kristine Dedolph at the Lamoille Canyon Environmental Education Days
Dora and Kristine Dedolph make a good team. Kristine may do the talking but Dora the burro is the star of the show. Kristine is a range technician at the Bureau of Land Management’s Elko office. She owns Dora and takes it to schools to give talks to kindergarten through high school students about grazing and grazers, ecology, and the Wild Horse and Burro Program.
Dora began life as a wild burro on a burro Herd Management Area (HMA) north of Winnemucca. It carries a BLM freeze brand on its neck, which Kristine explains to students. At age 10, Dora was captured in a helicopter gather, accompanied by its foal. A family adopted Dora but the arrangement did not work out and Kristine obtained Dora two years later. Dora is now 17 years old and it is a good thing this partnership works well, since burros (Spanish for donkeys) often live into their 40s and one burro is in its 70s.
To say that Kristine is enthusiastic about burros would be an understatement. She told me “they are an animal so overlooked by history. Horses may have carried men into battles but burros built civilizations.” Even today, marines in Afghanistan use donkeys to carry their high-tech gear. The wild burros living in Nevada probably came from mining exploration, where prospectors used them to carry gear. Also, early explorers and immigrants used mules so they must have also have had donkeys.
Kristine says adopted burros make good pets, and most people adopt them for that purpose. Other adopted burros guard sheep and goat flocks and they pack gear. They are very intelligent and easy to maintain. Kristine claims they are not stubborn, just very cautious animals.
Dora is quite tame and safe around children. Kristine is careful how children approach Dora and only in small numbers but it is quite a sight to see six children crowded around a calm Dora. They may not remember everything Kristine tells them about ecology but they probably all remember petting Dora.
Approximately 6,825 wild burros live on public lands across the southwest. Arizona has the most burros with 3,588 and Nevada has 1,431, mostly in southern Nevada. Most gathered burros are adopted out but 1,066 burros are in short-term holding. Burro HMAs are overpopulated about as badly as wild horse HMAs.
Elko Daily Free Press, “Nature Notes”, 6/7/2014
© Gray Jay Press, Elko, NV
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