2 Men Charged for Killing Wild Burros on BLM Land in California

by Vern Evans

The men drove into the Mojave Desert in the middle of the night and suited up in tactical gear and helmets with the goal of killing burros

Three wild burros feed on BLM land.

A trio of wild burros on BLM land. Photo by Daniel Hackett / BLM

Christopher Arnet of Loveland, Colorado, and Cameron Feikema of Yorba Linda, California, face up to 11 years in prison with additional probation and $12,000 in fines for shooting and killing three wild burros with unregistered short-barreled rifles in the Mojave Desert in November 2021. 

Court documents acquired by Outdoor Life detail Arnet and Feikema’s activity on the night of Nov. 5, when they drove Arnet’s truck onto Bureau of Land Management land near Coyote Dry Lakebed north of Yermo, California. At 1 a.m. on Nov. 6, 2021, the two men stood by the truck wearing tactical vests and belts, helmets, night vision goggles, and drop leg holsters. Both men carried unregistered 5.56 mm AR-style rifles with sub-16-inch barrels, which classifies them as short-barreled rifles under the National Firearms Act. They fired at least 13 rounds at a group of wild burros in the distance, striking one in the spine and paralyzing it before it died. The documents didn’t share further details about the other two burros they killed or how law enforcement tied the incident back to these men.

Charges for both men include one felony count of possession of an unregistered firearm and one misdemeanor count of maliciously killing a wild burro on public lands. Federal officers seized the guns as part of the investigation. 

The men have filed plea agreements that involved them forfeiting their unregistered rifles, tactical gear, and more than 4,000 rounds of ammunition. Their actions are considered “malicious” under the eye of the law because they knowingly killed the burros and did so without reason or just cause, court documents explain. 

Wild burros are not classified as big game animals, but are instead federally protected, unbranded, free-roaming donkeys. The Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971 protects both species from any “capture, branding, harassment, or death.” There are an estimated 3,013 free-roaming burros on BLM land in California, according to the most recent available data, and roughly 4,000 free-roaming horses, which is nearly triple the state’s appropriate management levels.

One of the suspects, Cameron Feikema of Colorado, worked as a product design engineer at 80 Percent Arms at the time of the incident, according to his LinkedIn profile. Arnet was also involved with the company, according to an article he wrote on their behalf in 2021. 80 Percent Arms sells parts and home build kits for DIY gun enthusiasts. They are also a gun-rights grassroots advocacy group and legal defense fund. 80 Percent Arms did not immediately reply to Outdoor Life’s requests for confirmation that these are the same men who were charged in the incident.  

Read Next: Beasts of Burden: Wild Horses and Burros Are Dying Hard Deaths in the West

Arnet was also the marketing director for the National Association for Gun Rights before he was terminated in October 2023 for unrelated reasons, NAGR president Dudley Brown tells Outdoor Life. Brown confirmed that Arnet had a lot of knowledge on night vision technology, and that NAGR had originally recruited him following a range day with 80 Percent Arms. He also confirmed that Arnet would have been closely familiar with the laws he was breaking, and that he never disclosed any information about the incident to NAGR.

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