A blogger at the Houston Chronicle website is among the misinformed and ecologically ignorant pundits crying foul over the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department culling feral burros at Big Bend Ranch State Park, and using it as an opportunity to hurl barbs at Rick Perry.
Under the headline, “Does coyote-killing Rick Perry support Big Bend burro slaughter?”, political blogger Peggy Fikac wrote:
Gov. Rick Perry — who’s bragged about gunning down a coyote on a morning jog (to save his daughter’s dog, he said) — is steering clear of a controversy over the shooting of burros in Big Bend Ranch State Park by Texas government workers.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department — overseen by a Perry-appointed commission — has killed “50 some-odd” burros in the park since re-instituting the shoot-to-kill policy last year, said Brent Leisure, state parks director.
Or in parks-speak: “We have undertaken a practice of using lethal means for burro control … It was really our only safe and effective alternative in controlling that particular invasive species.”
Other animal-protectionists are braying about the cull, citing emotional objections bereft of biology or scientific justification.
The Wild Burro Protection League has gathered more than 66,000 signatures on a Change.org petition and are working to pressure Perry into bringing an end to the wild burro removal.
“This atrocity has gone on for far too long,” said Karen Van Atta Luce, the petition author. “It is absolutely shocking that Governor Perry and Texas Parks and Wildlife haven’t recognized what incredible living assets the wild burros are.”
According to Parks Director Brent Leisure, without any natural predators the animals tax the resources of the area, which have already been especially stretched with the state in a drought.
“The burros don’t have any predators, and they are very prolific. Their impacts are great. They are so difficult to round up that really our only option was to humanely harvest these animals,” Leisure told the Forth Worth Star-Telegram. “It’s not uncommon for us to do this with things like feral hogs that have similar impacts on resources … I can assure you, it’s not something we enjoy. We don’t actively go out and hunt them. In an opportunistic way — when we encounter them in the backcountry, we execute the policy.”
The petitioners, however, allege that the real reason the park is removing the invasive species is to bring in more wildlife for big game hunters.