BLM partners with animal welfare organizations to increase reward


Bureau of Land Management

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A pair of wild burros eating vegetation in the California desert. Photo by the BLM.Thanks to substantial new pledges from several conservation and animal welfare organizations, the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the deaths of 42 wild burros from the Clark Mountain Herd Area in California has now risen to almost $60,000.

This week, the The Platero Project committed $32,500 towards the reward, along with The Humane Society of the United States ($2,500), Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue ($2,500) and Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue ($2,500). The new pledges join those of the Bureau of Land Management ($10,000), the American Wild Horse Campaign ($2,500), Return To Freedom ($5,000) and The Cloud Foundation ($1,000). Combined with the new pledges, the total reward is now $58,000.

Since May, a total of 42 wild burro carcasses with gunshot wounds have been found along the Interstate 15 corridor between Halloran Springs, California, and Primm, Nevada, in various states of decomposition. They are all from the Clark Mountain Herd Area in San Bernardino County, managed by the BLM’s Needles Field Office. Bureau of Land Management law enforcement is leading the rapidly expanding investigation into the illegal killings, in coordination with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“I appreciate these organizations joining us in our pursuit to identify the perpetrators who are responsible for these appalling and senseless acts,” said Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “We are working with law enforcement and are determined to find those who are responsible, bringing them to justice.”

“With the increasing reward now on the table, we’re confident that someone will come forward with actionable information soon. The cruelty involved in shooting these burros and leaving them to die warrants prosecution to the fullest extent of the law,” said BLM’s Deputy Director for Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley. “We thank the animal welfare groups for adding their voices to those organizations who value these iconic symbols of the West.”

“The investigation into the California burro killings has generated additional interest and support from animal welfare groups and BLM partners. We’re hopeful the publicity will result in good leads for our investigators to follow,” said BLM California Acting State Director Joe Stout. “We are grateful for all the support.”

“The murders of the Mojave Desert Burros must be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Burros have been forgotten and underrepresented in the equine rights conversations. Burros must be given a prominent voice and enhanced status and protection on the range,” said the Platero Project in a statement.

“The senseless slaying of these wild burros is deeply disturbing, and anyone who is capable of this level of violence must be held accountable,” said CEO and president of the Humane Society of the United States Kitty Block. “Together with the BLM and other organizations we are calling for swift justice for these heinous and indefensible crimes against animals, and we are particularly grateful to the Platero Project for contributing significantly to the reward fund.”

“Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue has been saving mustangs and burros since 1997,” said Founder and Executive Director of Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue Jill Starr. “The public should know that wild horses and burros are protected by law and those who abuse and/or kill them can and should go to jail. Lifesavers' mission compels us to contribute to the reward. We hope it will invite information leading to the arrest and conviction of the cowardly person(s) who mercilessly shot and killed these precious burros. Somebody knows something and money talks.”

"Either all donkeys matter or none of them do," said Executive Director of Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue Mark Meyers.

Anyone with information about this investigation is asked to call the WeTip hotline at 800-78CRIME (800-782-7463) or visit Callers may remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward for information leading to the arrest(s) and conviction(s) of any person(s) responsible for the deaths of these protected animals. More information on the rewards offered by the conservation and animal welfare organizations can be found on the organizations’ websites. 

The animals are federally protected under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. The Act protects wild, free-roaming horses and burros from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and considers them an integral part of the natural system of public lands managed by the BLM. Anyone arrested and found guilty of willfully violating a regulation issued pursuant to this Act, shall be subject to a fine of not more than $2,000, or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both. These penalties can apply to each count charged.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.