Wild horses are often in the spotlight, but the wild burros of the west are just as fascinating and deserving of our attention and respect. Like mustangs, burros are a link to America's past and are protected under federal law as "living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West" that "contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people."
Burros accompanied explorers and pioneers on their treks throughout the west, surviving even when the harsh conditions claimed the lives of their human "owners." By the Gold Rush years of the 19th century, burros were used primarily in the southwest as pack animals for prospectors. At the end of the mining boom many of them escaped or were turned loose. With their innate ability to survive under the harshest conditions, wild burro herds eventually formed and flourished.