Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Photo-adventures with Wild Burros

Long ears and shaggy manes looking out over the sage brush

 Heading out to no-man’s land in the desert looking for adventure and much to my surprise there against the horizon was a large group of wild burros.  The area where I was driving was the road that ran near Garfield Flats.  Garfield Flats has desolate topography with some interesting rock outcroppings that were formed from volcanism.  


On my previous trips I had not encountered much wildlife except for birds, lizards and a sole coachwhip snake.  Coming upon this many wild burros was a rare treat.  Not too far in the distance and at a higher elevation lies the Marietta Wild Burro Range. I thought maybe the burros were seeking lower ground with the cold fronts that were forecast later in the week. 


Concerned that my truck might scare the burros, I stopped and took several photos before I drove any closer. The road ran right past to where the burros were grazing so I decided to continue slowly forward.  To my relief, most of the burros kept their heads down and did not stop eating.


Being curious animals, several burros stopped eating and watched with ears forward to determine what I was up to.  This is when a zoom lens is mighty useful. 


Wild burros are not true native desert creatures but were brought over to the Desert Southwest by the Spaniards in the 1500’s.  They were originally from Africa and known as the Wild Ass.  These present day wild burros reach a height of around 5 feet and were valued as pack animals.   Being sure-footed, these hardy creatures can carry heavy burdens and go for days in the hot desert without water. 


The diet of wild burros which consists mainly of native desert grasses along with  Mormon Tea and Plantain will provide the animals with moisture.  However, wild burros are known to stay within 10 miles of a water source.   They can endure up to a 30% loss of  body weight in water and then replenish it in 5 minutes.


A few of the female burros were filled out and almost appeared to be pregnant, which is unusual this late in the season. I noticed one foal that was still trying to nurse.  The temperatures for this autumn have been very mild, however colder weather is sure to come 


These burros are fortunate to reside in an area that has been designated for them.  Although wild burros are protected wildlife under the 1971Wild and Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act (Public Law 92-195) they still face many challenges with life in the open desert.


As the sun dropped to a low angle, it was time to leave the burros and head back before nightfall.  I look forward to a return visit but that might not be till spring depending on how much snowpack the winter brings.  


Follow my blog and check back often to see where my next photo-adventure will go.  Part of the thrill is just allowing it to happen, like with the wild burros.       


What an exciting and interesting photo-adventure this day has been.  I love it when I am drawn to an area and not knowing what to expect I get treated to new experiences. 

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