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August 28, 2015

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Auction reveals high demand for ‘sweet and friendly’ wild burros

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Mona Shield Payne/Special to the Sun

David Raye, 9, hand feeds a wild burro while attending the Bureau of Land Management wild burro adoption event held at Oliver Ranch in Red Rock Canyon on Saturday, September 22, 2012.

Burro Adoption

A male burro lies in the cool dirt and relaxes during the Bureau of Land Management wild burro adoption event held at Oliver Ranch in Red Rock Canyon Saturday, September 22, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Jon and Alice Degusto are under the burro spell.

The husband and wife from Pahrump love the miniature donkey’s large, pointy ears; its spiky mane that looks like a mohawk; and its ambling-along easygoing nature. They just “seem like little sweeties,” Alice Degusto said.

“For a long time, we’ve come through Red Rock to see them,” Jon Degusto said. “We’ll go to Oatman, Arizona, to feed them. They’re just so sweet and friendly.”

So when they learned that the Bureau of Land Management was hosting its first wild burro adoption event Saturday near Blue Diamond, they had to attend. By the end of their visit, they filled out the paperwork to take home 2-year-old, black-and-white jenny No. 38.

“I wanted two, but he would only let me start with one,” Alice Degusto said. “I just don’t like them to be (alone).”

The Degustos aren’t the only ones to fall in love with the burros. Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Hillerie Patton said animals were being adopted because people stop to feed them despite signs posted along State Route 159 that forbid it.

All 27 burros up for adoption have become reliant on the Cheetos, pretzels and other various junk food that people feed them. Patton said the burros have become conditioned to wander toward the highway or into people’s yards thinking there will be food.

“It’s really dangerous,” Patton said of the burros’ habits. “Because they’re out causing damage and getting out (in the road) causing trouble, they’re called “nuisance burros.”

Although the animals' likability has gotten them into trouble, it also has made them easy to sell. Each one is adopted for a fee of $125, or $200 for a foal and a jenny (baby and mother). People also must meet the necessary requirements and pass a one-year trial, in which an inspector will verify the burro is well-cared-for.

Eleven burros were adopted during the first two hours of the event. Patton said there had been a steady stream of people since 10 a.m. Some came to adopt; others just wanted to pet the burros and take pictures.

“They’re so cute. Burros make really great pets,” Patton said. “They’re lovable, and on a ranch, they’re very protective of sheep.”

Jackie Peterson peered through one of the fences, weighing adoption as she watched a gray burro lounge around. She said she’s wanted one for almost 15 years. She and her husband weren’t ready then, but now they are.

They own two horses, but the burro is different. It would be a pet, she said, or like a big lawn ornament.

“I just think they’re so cute,” Peterson said.

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