Environment & Science

'Please stop feeding the burros': Riverside County to review ordinance

File: In Oatman, Ariz., burros are likely to nuzzle with tourists and are notoriously difficult to move out of harm's way.
File: In Oatman, Ariz., burros are likely to nuzzle with tourists and are notoriously difficult to move out of harm's way.
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Anyone visiting or living in Riverside County could soon face hundreds of dollars in citations if they choose to feed or interact with the region’s wild burros.

During the Riverside County Board of Supervisors’ Tuesday meeting, an ordinance “prohibiting the harassment and feeding of undomesticated burros,” was given the OK for a review by the clerk of the supervisors. Before it goes into effect this summer, the ordinance must also be given a public hearing in late spring, John Welsh, spokesman for Riverside County’s Department of Animal Services, told KPCC.

The population growth of wild burro herds, paired with the urbanization of Riverside County, has resulted in an increase in the number of the county's injured burros and traffic accidents, according to a draft of the proposed ordinance. 

Burro herds migrate into populated areas using rail lines and roadways, expecting an extra carrot or apple core from friendly people, Walsh said. But the result has brought together two incompatible populations — humans and wild burros. 

File: Wild burros graze in Riverside County.
File: Wild burros graze in Riverside County.
John Welsh

One night several years ago, while driving through Reche Canyon, a woman was killed when her car struck a burro, he said. 

"She wasn't expecting to see a burro there," Walsh said. "If you're not familiar with Reche Canyon, you would not think you would run into a burro at night."

The penalties for feeding or coaxing a wild burro into a populated area could add up to $500 per incident, according to the proposed ordinance. 

In the draft approved Tuesday, a first-time offender would get a $100 fine. A second violation equals a $200 fine. The third violation and every time after could cost the offender $500, according to the draft.

“We’re trying to make sure people don’t feed the burros,” Welsh said.

Burros are undomesticated donkeys. The Spanish word “burro” translates directly to English as “donkey.”

The wild burros, which are known to be friendly to people who give them food, inhabit several unincorporated parts of Riverside County, including the hills above Grand Terrace and Moreno Valley, Walsh said.