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Marietta Wild Burro Range

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Located in Mineral County, Nevada, Marietta is the Nation's first formally recognized Wild Burro Range.

The 68,000-acre range is managed for between 78-104 wild burros (Equus asinus asinus). The burros roam freely near the ruins of the historic Nevada mining town of Marietta and the seasonally changing Teels Marsh.

The Marietta Wild Burro Range was publicly dedicated in 1991-- the 20th anniversary of passage of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

The range is located south east of Hawthorne, Nevada. The area includes nearly 66,500 acres of public land. Patented mining claims around Teels Marsh and the Marietta mining district account for 1,500 acres of private lands within the area.

A BURRO HAVEN

Designation as a Wild Burro Range means the area may be managed "principally", but not necessarily exclusively, for wild burros. This is a national designation conferred by the Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). One reason for this area's designation as a range is the unique opportunity available for public viewing of the herd and its habitat.

LIVING SYMBOLS OF THE WEST

Congress said "...wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West...they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people." The Marietta Wild Burro Range is one of about 15 areas where burros can be found in Nevada. As of August 2011, there were approximately 38,500 wild horses (Equus caballas) and burros on BLM-managed lands. A majority of these animals reside in Nevada and are managed by the BLM.

THE BURROS' FAMILY TREE

Wild burros evolved in the deserts of northern Africa and parts of Asia. They adapted to hot, dry summers, cold winters and marginal food sources. These traits combined with physical strength made the burro a useful pack animal.

Early explorers brought both horses and burros to the New World. Today's populations reflect Nubian (africanus) and Somalian (somaliensis) characteristics. The Nubian is the most dominant subspecies. It has a black stripe across the shoulders and one that extends down the middle of the back. The Somalian has stripes on both the front and back legs resembling a zebra. Hair color varies from a bluish tint to shades of gray. Combinations of white, black and brown are common.

During the late 1800s, miners used burros as pack animals while prospecting for gold and silver in the Marietta Mining District. Some of these animals escaped or were released into the desert area surrounding Teels Marsh.

The Marietta herd is unique in Nevada, since this is one of the most northern burro populations of any size. The animals themselves are larger than those encountered in areas to the south.

WHAT DOES A BURRO EAT? 

Vegetation throughout the range includes various grasses, brush and trees. The burro prefers Indian ricegrass and four-wing saltbush, but will eat whatever it can to survive.

Even though this area is a desert, there are several springs within the range where the burros seek water. The most used springs are on the west edge of Teels Marsh. During the hot summer months, the burros are usually within two miles of water, especially females with young foals. As fall approaches, the burros disperse and are found at the higher elevations and up to six miles from water. Wild burros have been known to walk 15 miles without water and then drink five gallons in two and a half minutes, a capability surpassed only by the camel.

GROWING UP WILD

Burros grow to be about half the size of a horse and weigh between 400 and 600 pounds. Males are called jacks, and females are called jennies.

The differences between horses and burros are easy to see. Burros have longer ears and short manes and tails. Burros also "bray" instead of "whinny".

Babies are born once per year usually between March and July. In the wild, mountain lions are the only natural predator.


Photo of wild burros at Marietta Wild Burro Range
Burros are very observant and will probably not let you get very close to them. Use a long lens if you are trying to take their portrait!

HOW TO GET THERE

It will take just over one hour to drive the 55 miles from Hawthorne, Nevada to the turn-off to Marietta. Travel south from Hawthorne on Interstate Highway 95. Turn southwest onto State Route 360 towards Benton California. Then turn west onto the maintained dirt county road to Marietta. You can also reach the Marietta Wild Burro Range by traveling north on Highway 95 from Tonopah. Take Highway 6 west to the 360 turn-off. Continue north to the Marietta turn-off.

  • Enjoy viewing the burros, but DO NOT attempt to chase or feed them.
  • Take along a pair of binoculars to see the burros "UP CLOSE".
  • Some of the property in Marietta is private. The residents would appreciate your respect. Leave things as you find them, and take all your own trash with you.

Map of Marietta Wild Burro Range 

You're Way Out There, So Plan Ahead and Be Safe!
  The closest town to Marietta is Mina, Nevada approximately 30 miles to the north on Highway 95.  Unlike the wild burro, you will not have time to adapt to the ever-changing environment. Take food, plenty of drinking water (two gallons per person per day), warm clothes and a hat. Check your vehicle's spare tire and fuel gauge before venturing down the dirt roads.

Lastly, this is an old mining district. Open mine shafts, shaky buildings, unstable rock ruins and rattlesnakes are common. LOOK before you STEP, TOUCH or CAMP.


Photo of sign overlooking the Marietta Wild Burro Range.
Overlooking the Marietta Wild Burro Range.
Photo of the Marietta Wild Burro Range, the first of it's kind in the United States.
The Marietta Wild Burro Range is the first and only of it's kind of Herd Management Area in the United States.