Governor signs Senator Ochoa Bogh's Bill Protecting Wild Burros

The Governor has signed Senate Bill 371, authored by Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R-Yucaipa), into law. This pivotal legislation protects undomesticated burros in the Reche Canyon region of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

“With SB 371, we’ve opened the doors for a compassionate and effective solution to the hazardous situation for both the residents and burros in the area,” said Senator Ochoa Bogh. “The bill’s primary focus is community safety and the welfare of these animals, ensuring that they are out of harm’s way and receive the necessary care.”

Reche Canyon is the home to the largest population of undomesticated burros in California. These burros were introduced to the region in the 1950s by ranchers and have been roaming freely for almost 60 years. Their population has now exceeded a thousand, and their presence has led to dangerous conditions for residents and the burros themselves. Unfortunately, traffic collisions involving these animals have resulted in several fatalities over the years.

Despite Riverside County Animal Services being authorized to manage undomesticated burros, they often find themselves understaffed and under-resourced. There is also a shortage of veterinary professionals to address the medical needs of these burros.

"Senate Bill 371 will play an impactful role by allowing Riverside County Department of Animal Services to provide additional assistance to the wild donkey population and the citizens of the area. It will also allow government animal service agencies to sign agreements with non-profits in the area for assistance, helping Riverside County to better fulfill its mission to serve people and animals," said Erin Gettis, director, Riverside County Department of Animal Services. "We are thankful for Senator Ochoa Bogh’s leadership on this important issue which will help increase access to veterinary services and improve public safety in our community.”

“Senator Ochoa Bogh has brought attention to a serious problem, serious for the people who drive the roads where the burros wander, serious for the farmers and ranchers who struggle to defend their crops from hungry burros, and serious for the burros who have no safe place to eat and drink and who continue to populate at an accelerated rate,” said Sherli Leonard, executive director, Redlands Conservancy. “We are grateful for this very large step toward solving the problem.”

Numerous nonprofit organizations in the Inland Empire, equipped with funds, volunteers, and veterinary expertise, are eager to assist the burro population.

With SB 371 now law, counties can actively partner with these nonprofits. This collaborative effort will allow for the safe removal of undomesticated burros from private lands and public roadways, ensuring they receive medical attention when necessary. Additionally, SB 371 permits local animal control agencies or affiliated nonprofits to relocate unfit burros to appropriate facilities or to private adopters.

“I want to express my profound gratitude to the sponsors and supporters of SB 371. Their unwavering commitment and dedication have been instrumental in addressing this crucial issue. Together, we are safeguarding the interests of both our residents and the undomesticated burro population in California,” concluded Senator Ochoa Bogh.