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Press Release

Yorba Linda Man and Colorado Man Plead Guilty to Fatally Shooting Wild Burros in Mojave Desert and Unlawfully Possessing Firearms

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California

RIVERSIDE, California – An Orange County man and a Colorado man pleaded guilty today to federal criminal charges for shooting three wild burros (donkeys) to death in the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County in late 2021.

Christopher James Arnet, 32, of Loveland, Colorado, and Cameron John Feikema, 36, of Yorba Linda, California, each pleaded guilty to one felony count of possession of an unregistered firearm, namely a short-barreled rifle, and one misdemeanor count of maliciously causing the death of a burro on public lands.

According to their plea agreements, on November 5, 2021, the defendants drove in Arnet’s truck to public land north of the town of Yermo, in San Bernardino County. Arnet and Feikema eventually got out of Arnet’s truck and were dressed in tactical gear, including ballistic helmets equipped with night vision goggles. Arnet and Feikema each possessed an AR-style firearm.

At approximately 1 a.m. on November 6, 2021, Arnet and Feikema collectively fired at least 13 rounds from their firearms, striking and killing three wild burros. Arnet fired at least five rounds from his firearm while Feikema fired at least four rounds from his weapon.  One burro was shot near its spine towards its hind legs, which paralyzed the burro’s hind legs and caused the animal severe pain before it died. A bullet removed from that burro was fired from Arnet’s firearm.

Law enforcement later seized the firearms involved in the burro shootings at Arnet and Feikema’s residences. When the firearms were seized, each was a short-barreled rifle and therefore required to be registered under federal law. Neither of the firearms was registered.

United States District Judge Jesus G. Bernal scheduled July 8 sentencing hearings for the defendants, who will face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison for the firearm count and up to one year in federal prison for the burro death count. As part of the plea agreements, defendants agreed to forfeit or abandon the illegally possessed rifles, over 4,000 rounds of ammunition, night vision goggles, and other tactical gear.

The Bureau of Land Management investigated this matter.

Assistant United States Attorneys Cory L. Burleson, of the Riverside Branch Office, and Alexander Su, of the Asset Forfeiture & Recovery Section, are prosecuting these cases.


Ciaran McEvoy
Public Information Officer
(213) 894-4465

Updated March 18, 2024

Animal Welfare
Press Release Number: 24-061