Wild burros, long a part of the foothill landscape, have increasingly ventured on or near the UC Riverside campus in recent years.
As students and employees returned to campus this fall, they have reported sightings and posted photos and videos of their encounters in areas including parking lots, student residence halls, and Watkins Road.
Jason Espinoza, UCR’s director of the Office of Emergency Management, said burros are a federally protected species and advised people to be respectful in dealing with them.
“Let them be, like we would with any wildland creature,” he said.
The area’s burros are known to wander the Box Springs Mountains into adjacent communities like Moreno Valley and Riverside. The city of Moreno Valley has provided the following suggestions for dealing with them:
• Please do not feed them. Doing so could reduce their natural instinct to forage and fear of people.
• Don’t approach them. They can be territorial and protective of their offspring. A kick from a burro can be deadly.
• Slow down. If you see them while driving, be careful to avoid them.
Espinoza noted that miners in the late 1800s brought the burros to the region to be used in mining, which ultimately failed, yet the burros remained behind. He also highlighted the city of Riverside's historical agricultural environment with open lands, creeks, and watersheds with abundant wildlife. Due to drought conditions in recent years, burros may have been drawn closer to populated areas recognized as rich food sources, he said.
Part of UCR’s mission is being good stewards of the land it occupies, Espinoza said.
“Be aware of your surroundings, be respectful of nature and enjoy the opportunities when nature reminds us of our history,” he said.