BY SARAH WOMER – SUN STAFF WRITER
“The intense heat and sun of the Arizona desert can be lethal”
Baby Wild Burros Captured and Imprisoned by the BLM ~ photo by Terry Fitch
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management began rounding up burros Wednesday to maintain a healthy population of wild burros on public lands, despite opposition from a congressional representative and animal experts.
The BLM’s Yuma Field Office launched what is being called the largest burro roundup of 2012 in hopes of collecting a target group of 350 burros from the Cibola-Trigo Herd Management Area north of Yuma. The roundup took place amid letters from Congressman Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., in addition to an Arizona equine veterinarian and other experts, who were urging the BLM to postpone the operation until the fall because of the heat.
“I ask that the BLM postpone the Cibola-Trigo roundup at this time,” stated Grijalva in a letter to Ken Salazar, secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. “When the temperature surpasses 90 degrees Fahrenheit, roundups of wild horses and burros should be suspended. The intense heat and sun of the Arizona desert can be lethal. It can be equally hard on BLM staff, contractors and the viewing public.”
Michael D. Hutchison, a practicing equine veterinarian in Tucson, echoed Grijalva’s sentiments.
“As an established practicing southern Arizona equine veterinarian who serves on the board of the Arizona Coalition for Equines dedicated to abolishing animal cruelty, I am compelled to raise an objection to the round-up under these extreme weather conditions.”
BLM officials said they have revised their plan to round up the animals in temperatures as high as 105 degrees Fahrenheit and reduced it to a 95-degree maximum instead.
They also stated that all animals gathered will be examined and, if needed, treated by an on-site veterinarian.
Wednesday, the BLM gathered 62 burros in the local area, said Lori Cook with the BLM, noting that the number was their target for the day. “We finished the gather operations around 10:30 a.m. and the temperature was 87 degrees.”
Cook added that the burro roundup is not expected to last the expected two weeks as previously estimated. It is open to the public for viewing, she said, noting that they are meeting at 6:30 a.m. at Fisher’s Landing Store at Martinez Lake for the next week.
“All attendees must drive their own four-wheel-drive or high-clearance vehicle,” stated BLM officials. “Also, observers should dress in accordance with weather conditions and bring plenty of food and water.”
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