So Today I Fed Some Wild Burros
The top three things on my bucket list for Custer state Park were:
* Feed wild burros.
* Get stuck in a bison jam.
* Walk around Sylvan Lake.
Well, I did all that and so much more, but I gotta say, spending a short time with the wild burros was by far my favorite activity in the park.
Why is there a herd of wild burros in Custer State Park?
Today’s herd originated from pack mules that were used to climb the Harney Peak summit back in the day. They were used by the park to pack in supplies and visitors. When these working burros were no longer needed they were released into the wild. These feral burros have now been freely roaming the park for nearly a century.
Where can you find the herd?
The burros like to hangout on the scenic Wildlife Loop Road located inside the park. They can usually be found between Red Valley Road and Lame Johnny Road. If not on the loop try turning down Lame Johnny Road to search for them. I was told they like to hang out there as well.
These guys are not shy and have rightfully earned the nickname “begging burros”. They have even been known to stop traffic and crowd vehicles begging for food. More than once they have stuck their head inside a car that has it’s windows down looking for a snack so be prepared if driving by.
They were in a small field next to the road when we visited though so I got to walk around and interact with many members of the herd.
Though technically you are not to feed any wildlife inside the park it seems to have become an unwritten rule that it’s ok to feed these little donkeys. Crackers, apples and carrots seem to be popular food options. We brought along some apple slices and I was thrilled to feed multiple baby donkeys as well as many adults.
Though these burros seem to have become accustomed to human interaction never forget that they are technically feral animals living in the wild! Sometimes they will become aggressive begging for food.
This one particular male was quite pushy, to say the least, while we were there. He would push other burros out of the way for food and headbutted multiple people as well, including me.
For the most part the burros were quite pleasant and the experience was great. Just use caution when interacting with the herd. Leave your pets in your vehicle and keep an eye on your little ones. If a burro is acting aggressive or you feel unsafe in even the slightest slowly walk away from the situation.
Truthfully I can’t remember how many the herd we encountered consisted of, but there had to be at least twenty. There were a number of babies walking around and they were all absolutely adorable.
The momma and baby in the pic above were farther away from the herd and made no attempt to interact with their human visitors. The baby looked quite young and stayed on the ground the entire time so I’m thinking he was a fairly new addition to the herd. All visitors gave them a wide berth though and respected their personal space since it was obvious they didn’t want to be bothered. They were both quite beautiful though.
So if there was one thing I think you should absolutely not miss while visiting Custer State park it’s the opportunity to interact with these wild burros. If you don’t see them on your first trip around the Wildlife Loop Road go visit some visitor centers or take a hike and come back later to look for them again. Just make sure you have snacks handy or you just might find the head of a begging burro inside your car.