AUSTIN -- An unusual protest filled the streets of downtown Austin Thursday as activists rallied to change a state practice of killing wild animals.
A dozen protestors walked and rode burros through downtown to the south steps of the State Capitol. They hand delivered a petition to the offices of Governor Perry and Lt. Governor Dewhurst with 103,000 signatures from people all over the country.
They want to convince state leaders to stop the practice of killing wild burros in Big Bend Ranch State Park in West Texas.
"Why are we shooting them? Really? How barbaric," said activist Rachael Waller Rondeaux.
Rondeaux lives in Alpine, 80 miles from the park in West Texas.
"We love our burros. The whole town is behind the burros," he said. "We don't want to see this happening at all."
Officials with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said the practice of killing invasive species not native to Texas is 20 years old. Officials say the wild burros harm the ecosystem.
"They tend to foul the water sources, and they have negative impacts on fragile plant communities," said Brent Leisure, the director of state parks.
Leisure said there are roughly 200 to 300 wild burros in Big Bend Ranch State Park. He said the department tried non-lethal methods of removing burros in the past, but they failed.
He said from 2008 to 2010, park officials allowed a group to try and trap wild burros, but the group did not catch a single burro. Leisure said the terrain of the park is rocky and it makes it difficult to catch burros.
"None of those efforts have been successful in the past," Leisure said.
A spokesperson with Governor Perry's office said the governor supports the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and expects the department to make decisions that are in the best interest for the state's land and species.