Mohave County, Arizona, soon will add signs informing motorists the feeding of wild burros in Oatman is prohibited if the animals are standing on the Route 66 roadway.
The signs are being added for the safety of burros and motorists.
The county’s board of supervisors without comment on Monday unanimously approved the proposal for the new signs amid about two dozen other items in its consent agenda.
According to the county’s Public Works director: “Engineering and traffic investigations have identified an issue of drivers stopping in the roadway to feed burros in Oatman that warrants the installation of NO FEEDING IN ROADWAY regulatory signage.”
Here’s what the signs will look like:
The measure also states “the concern is not so much negative effects on the health of the animals from artificial feeding as the roadway blockage and potential for vehicle/burro conflicts, leading to a need to include a ‘NO STOPPING’ type message.”
The measure states the signs will be placed on the outskirts of Oatman on approaches to the village, including westbound or eastbound Route 66.
Tracy Sage, an employee of the Oatman General Store, told the Havasu News-Herald the signs are needed.
“It definitely needs to be limited,” Sage said of the proposed resolution. “Feeding burros in the streets puts the burros in danger. If they get used to staying in the roads … we’ve actually lost a few of them that way, when drivers aren’t paying attention.”
The measure doesn’t mean people can’t feed the burros at all. If the animals are off the roadway or in a side alley, feeding them is OK.
The burros are a big tourist attraction in Oatman. Visitors pet the often-docile animals or feed them alfalfa cubes sold by stores as they roam the village. At nightfall, the animals graze in the nearby mountains or valleys.
The burros are descendants of animals used in area gold mines a century ago. When the mines closed, workers turned the burros loose.
(Image of one of the Oatman burros by Ethan Kan via Flickr; an image of the new road signs for Oatman via Mohave County document)