Horse News

Experts Urge BLM to Halt Massive Arizona Burro Roundup in High Desert Heat

published by American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign 

Veterinarians, Temple Grandin and Humane Society of U.S. Agree: No Helicopter Stampedes in Temps Above 90 Degrees

Wild Burros in BLM holding ~ photo by Terry Fitch

As the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) prepares to launch a massive burro roundup next week in the lower Sonora Desert, where temperatures are expected to exceed 100 degrees, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), a coalition of more than 50 organizations, is calling on the BLM to postpone the helicopter stampede and capture operation until Fall, when temperatures will be lower. In a letter to the BLM, the AWHPC cited the opinions of leading scientists and humane experts, who stated definitively that wild burros and wild horses should not be rounded up by helicopters in temperatures above 90 degrees.

The BLM plans to use helicopters to round up hundreds of burros in Arizona’s Cibola Trigo Herd Management Area (HMA) and California’s Chocolate Mule Mountain Herd Area (HA) — both located in the Sonora desert near the Mexican border — beginning Monday, June 4, 2012. The roundups are expected to last over two weeks.

AWHPC’s letter, sent to outgoing BLM Director Bob Abbey and his replacement Mike Poole, also cited a report commissioned by Cattoor Livestock Round Up, Inc. the contractor hired by the BLM for the Cibola-Trigo and Chocolate-Mule roundups. The report was prepared by Mark J. Deesing, Animal Behavior & Facilities Design consultant for Grandin Livestock Handling System. Deesing,  an assistant to the highly-regarded livestock industry consultant Dr. Temple Grandin, wrote, “It is the opinion of Dr. Temple Grandin and myself that gathers in temperatures at or above 90F should always be avoided…”

Dr. Michael Hutchison, a practicing equine veterinarian in Tucson, Arizona, and Board member of the Arizona Coalition of Equines, agreed with the Grandin report. In a letter to BLM leadership, Dr. Hutchison noted, “As an Arizona Equine Veterinarian whose professional career involves equines, including burros, I strongly advise the BLM to postpone the round up until the weather conditions meet the temperature guidelines described by the humane organization and livestock animal behaviorist specialists.”

This maximum temperature advisory supports recommendations provided to the BLM by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) on July 13, 2011 which stated, “…we [the HSUS] strongly suggest that, at the very least, the BLM refrain from conducting helicopter drive trapping gathers in temperatures above 90F …

AWHPC’s letter also included a statement from Jennifer Garretson, DVM, a Waco, Texas veterinarian who has both professional and personal experience caring for burros and donkeys, which stated: “Temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit are considered excessive for unconditioned burros to be run for long distances during a gathering process.  Burros are roughly one-half the size of wild mustangs.  As a result, wild burros have shorter legs and thus shorter strides than the wild mustangs.  This forces burros to expend twice the effort than that of mustangs to cover the same distance, given that they are covering roughly, ½ the distance with each stride as the wild mustang.  This stride length is further reduced for burro foals.  Burros also have thicker, heavier fur coats than their counterpart mustangs.  This reduces the speed at which heat dissipation can occur during exertion.  This can heighten their risk of experiencing heat stress, heat exhaustion and/or  heat stroke, which causes dehydration, lactic acid build up, exhaustion of glycogen reserves in the liver, colic, rhabdomyelitis, collapse and even death. . .  The life stages that are at the highest risk of succumbing to the deleterious effects of a gathering in high heat are late-term, pregnant Jennets, foals under 1 year of age and geriatric burros (defined as 15 years and older).”

“The BLM must prioritize the best interests of the burros and the experts agree – roundup activities should not continue in temperatures 90 degrees or higher,” said Deniz Bolbol, communications director for AWHPC. “The BLM currently allows helicopters to chase small burros, who live in harsh desert environment with limited water reserves, for seven miles at speeds as fast as 10 miles per hour in temperatures reaching 105 degrees. This policy is clearly not in the burros’ best interests. It’s time for the BLM to work with all interested parties to establish humane standards that  prioritize animal welfare over BLM or roundup contractor convenience.”

In addition to the temperature concerns, AWHPC’s letter urged the BLM to implement a policy prohibiting helicopters from pursuing a single animal and repeatedly (more than three times) chasing or stampeding the
same group of animals into the trap pens. These are the same policies that were outlined late last year by Nevada BLM State Director Amy Lueders.

The million-acre Cibola-Trigo HMA extends from the Imperial Dam, west of the Colorado River, to Walters Camp in California’s lower Sonora Desert. After the BLM rounds up and removes 350 burros from Cibola Trigo, it will move across the Colorado River into California’s Chocolate-Mule HA. There the agency will target so called “nuisance burros” who reside on private land that was once a part of the HA, for removal.

The BLM website acknowledges that “summers can be dangerous” due to the extremely high desert summer temperatures. The BLM Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Cibola-Trigo roundup states that, “All herding activities will cease once the temperature reaches 105 degrees Fahrenheit,” which is 15 degrees hotter than the experts recommend.

57 replies »

  1. WTF is wrong with these people? Why do they always have to have it their own way regardless of opposition by accepted experts in the field? What could it possibly matter to wait a few months until the temperatures drop? To me it seems they want to proceed specifically because they KNOW it is dangerous, and that more lives will be lost. Sick bastards.


    • Gwen you are so right, the BLM does whatever it wants to do ignoring all good practices proven by the experts. The people who work for the BLM just seem like testosterone driven good-old-boys who pound their chests and make insane decisions after insane decisions to the demise of the burros, mustangs, and land in their care.

      The BLM does not give a damn what happens to the burros! So what if many of them die from heat exhaustion! So what if bad owners adopt some and mistreat them! Just so deeply sad!!


      • Sure looks like this is a hope they all die from heat exhaustion, what other answer can there be?????


  2. I subscribe to Care2 and other petition sites. They run petitions daily to gather signatures against animal cruelty. BLM has figured in these petitions–but they are never Stopped. They just switch to a new destruction target. Are they totally ignorant of basic equine management skills? Or do they just not give a damn about the animals? When a govt. agency can no longer perform its mandate, or learn from its past mistakes–then it’s time to terminate it before the damage is irreparable.


  3. They will cease operations when the temps reach 105 degrees? Are they insane? I hope someone is documenting how many burros will be collapsing from heat exhaustion and death. Why are they doing this in the summer months anyway?


    • Because as a BLM employee/contractor replied to R.T. back in 2009 at the Calico roundup “because we can”. It is up to us to stop this. And please everyone when you contact the BLM on this or any of their other plans of inhumanity, copy your members of Congress! The wh&b DO have supporters; it is up to us to add to that number in Congress that care. If enough people continue to express their outrage at the BLM, they will take note. It is an election year and I have had emails just this week alone from the Obama Headquarters, Michelle Obama, Joe Biden and many others. With all the money pouring in from the Koch Brothers to put Romney in the White House, it is the absolute perfect time to get Obama’s attention through our Senators and House Members. Obama and Romney are running dead even in many of the key states. Let’s turn that heat up!


    • Carl Mrozek will be there representing TMR Rescue’s Wild Burro Protection League. Presently, there is now a hold until June the 6th. Keep up the pressure folks.


  4. I am so sick of the BLM. If they ignore the experts and continue with the roundup, they will prove as they have in the past, that they do not give a damn about the wild horses and burros.

    I must say that I am happily surprised that the hated Catoor Livestock Roundup,Inc. commissioned a report to see if this was proper and feasible. I am glad that they asked for the report, I only wish that the BLM idiots would read and listen to people who are experts in the field.


    • One comment about the Catoors has stuck and was made by a BLM official (don’t recall who), but the comment was that “They are the best of a bad lot”

      I can’t think it would be healthy for humans to be working in these extreme temperatures. You don’t think as clearly. You get angry faster. It is much easier to make a mistake.


  5. Again I say they do it because they can!!!! They are driven by greed……..Never once have i seen them do anything with the horses welfare really in their minds !!!!!! Hitler mentality !!!! Nobody in there right mind would ever round up horses in the extreme heat or cold…………. Its a death wish for the horses, from the BLM …………………….. There can be no other answer for it !!!!!!


  6. Just went online to BLM website and saw a list of “Myths and Facts” updated this month.
    Apparently we are all simply mistaken about what goes on – BLM is happy to clear up any misinformation! Amazing!

    I think the idea of videotaping any BLM activity is brililant! I truly believe that if most people were aware of what is going on – they would be outraged. These people,like slaughterhouses, thrive on secrecy and the best thing to do is to expose their behavior and activities. Look at Canada – they have stopped accepting thoroughbreds to slaughter because it creates too much trouble for them and puts them in the spotlight – that last place they want to be.

    Myths and Facts
    Contact: Tom Gorey, BLM Public Affairs (202-912-7420)

    Updated as of May 2012

    Myth #1: The BLM is selling or sending wild horses to slaughter.
    Fact: This charge is absolutely false. The Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management care deeply about the well-being of wild horses, both on and off the range, and the BLM does not and has not sold or sent horses or burros to slaughter. Consequently, as the Government Accountability Office noted in a report issued in October 2008, the BLM is not in compliance with a December 2004 amendment (the so-called Burns Amendment to the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act) that directs the Bureau to sell excess horses or burros “without limitation” to any willing buyer.

    Myth #2: Horses are held in crowded “holding pens.”
    Fact: This assertion is false. The BLM’s short-term holding corrals provide ample space to horses, along with clean feed and water, while long-term holding pastures – large ranches located mainly in Kansas and Oklahoma – permit the horses to roam freely on 292,000 acres of grassland.


  7. Gotta keep sending good thoughts for the little burros in Cibola Trigo and the Chocolate Mule. Hard to believe the BLM would stampede this little equines in 105 degrees. Salazar should be made to run in that heat for a mile or two, so he’d experience what it entails. He has to retire if not fined for animal abuse.


  8. I suppose this is naive, but could the “new guy” Mike Poole, possibly have a different take
    on the roundups & dispersal of the wild horses & burros? Had there been any word that things might change after he comes into the office? Or is it just going to be more of the same mindset?


    • I wondered about this as well. There was a kindness in Bob Abbey’s manner. It just never translated into action. We don’t know why he left at this time. This could have been a matter of personal choice, but I still think the timing is odd. Why not stay through the November election unless something big has changed or is likely to change.

      He did receive criticism by the House Appropriations Committee on the management of the wild horse and burro program the past couple of years, but the criticism was vague—don’t know if they wanted more on the range management or something else. I saw the word processing used in Chairman Simpson’s newsletter which is sign Charlie Stenholm got him to drink some kool aide.


  9. The only thing shocking about this is that they can find ground personell to go along with it. In that kind of heat who would even want to stand still waiting for the horses instead of inside in air conditioning? Only someone whose brain is already fried!


  10. CALL, FAX, and keep CALLING and FAXING:

    BLM contact information:
    Colorado River District
    Roxie Trost, District Manager
    Yuma Field Office
    John MacDonald, Field Manager
    2555 East Gila Ridge Road
    Yuma, AZ 85365
    Phone: 928-317-3200
    Fax 928-317-3250


  11. Carl Mrozek is going to be our witness to this unnecessary and highly dangerous roundup. Not only are they running burros in high heat, they are going to be loading them on boats to go down the river. These are and endangered species as is proven by DNA. Please help Carl to meet his financial needs while there. He is still looking for a boat to document the river portion of the roundup, and our other area of concern is the Chocolate Mule Mountain roundup which will take place on private land. We will keep you posted.


    • The Temple Grandin/ HSUS letter may have already had an important effect : a 2 day delay of the start of the roundup from Monday 6/ 4 to Wed. 6/6 by BLM officials. Why ? The news release issued at the final hours of last week didn’t specify, but the BLM’s unofficial, verbal explanation was that it had to do with the contractors.
      However there are two other possibilities at play, -possibly both of them provided the critical mass needed to slow things down at the BLM:

      1. Record breaking heat, with daily high temps over 110, is supposed to end on Wednesday. Sure it makes it less stressful for the burros, but it also gives BLM contractors a much longer day to work with now that BLM officials have verbally pledged to shut down the day’s gather once temperatures climb into the 90’s -which can be fairly early in the recent recod-breaking heat.

      2 Public hearings in Sacramento on the (in) humaneness of using choppers to round up mustangs and burros, especially with temperatures over 100 F. Having the Cibola Trigo roundup in progress during this hearing could prove embarassing to BLM and more importantly, tilt the outcome of the hearing in favor of wild equines and their advocates.

      There is possibly another request for stay in the works as well as a call for action by pro-wild equine supporters in Sacramento, on 6/5 the day the hearing. Check with Ann Nowak at Protect Mustangs. org for an update on that prospect.

      All in all, concern for our rapidly vanishing long ears is increasing while pressure on the BLM is mounting. If we all pitch in perhaps BLM will postpone the Cibola Trigo wild burro roundup -until early Sept just like they did the so-called Piute roundup, in SE CA. This buys more time to pursue an even better outcome, a lower quota or maybe a longer term delay and a much lower quota .


    • From Carl Mrozek

      Subsequently I did find several half grown foals and a couple of younger ones, plus at least 2 pregnant jennies. However, overall there seemed to be a high proportion of jacks and a low number of foals of various ages in proportion to the total numbers that I observed in the vicinity of the Cibola Wildlife Refuge.
      This particular sub-populatiion had been ‘gathered’ by the BLM in Sept. 2010 and hence probably had their sex ratios skewed in favor of jacks as a result of that gather.

      THe pertinent question is why is this same sub-populaition within the Cibola-Trigo HMA being ‘gathered’ again, less than 2 years later – and after the earlier gather is having the intended effect of radically reducing reproduction and hence population growth ? BLM’s response is that this entire sub-population is being considered as ‘nuisance animals’ because some of them (noone knows what proportion) are browsing in alfalfa fields planted by US F & W contractors specifically for wildlife. Hence, what US F & W Svce is doing here is arbitrarily classifying these burros as exotic wildlife or at least as not an ‘approved species’ of wildlife. Moreover, this appears to be a local level decision, and not
      a broader one which applies agency-wide as in the above discussion.

      According to BLM officials in AZ , they are required to remove any burros deemed a ‘nuisance’ by private parties or by other federal, state, county…. officials under section 1334 of the WH & B Act of 1971 which applies to burros which have left the relative safety of BLM -managed public lands for the comparative non-safety of other public or private lands. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any obligation or even suggestion in Sect 1334 that BLM seek to find remedies other than removal once a complaint has been formally filed, -no matter how simple or inexpensive they might be. Hence alternate solutions like selective fencing, or the maintenance of water sources on BLM public lands, are categorically rejected or ignored in favor of the tried and true approach, the helicopter gather, with all of its costs and humane issues, in the interest of expediency.

      It is worth noting that for this sub-polulation of Cibola-Trigo burros, those near Cibola NWR, there are no formal complaints from local landowners -which are few, and also which have fenced burros out of their cultivated fields and hence incur no crop losses due to burros. The only complaints, or at least the principal ‘nuisance complaints’ come from the F&W Service because they have decided to regard burros as non-native and hence feral, exotic & invasive species rather than as an ‘approved species’ of wildlife entitled to the alfalfa which they have planted on behalf of wildlife in general. In legal terms this could qualify as ‘entrapment’ and seems ethically wrong at its core besides, and should be challenged on those grounds, as well as on the grounds cited by F. EUGENE HESTER,
      Acting Director, United States Fish and Wildlife Service
      (FR Doc.77-8741 Filed 3-23-77;8:45 am).

      If we don’t challenge the loose, inconsistent, but consistently biased interpretation of laws like the WH & B Act of 1971 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973 on behalf of wild burros, Equus Asinus, by BLM, US F & W S, THe US Forest Service and other agencies soon, the entire discussion will be moot as there will be precious few viable populations of wild burros left in the US.

      Carl Mrozek


  12. The Honorable U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell stated in her 23-page opinion that the agency [BLM] “may not simply remain studiously IGNORANT OF MATERIAL SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE …” and yet we see numerous examples that the BLM decisions are not science based and HERE is a big one!

    Equus asinus (wild burro) species is endangered and clearly listed as endangered WHERE FOUND and the Endangered Species Act does not make any reference to exclude species that may or may not be found on other than any historical country or area – thus this includes the United States of America and all states and all American lands. The following link was published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service species profile and is current.

    Species Profile
    African Wild ass (Equus asinus)
    Kingdom: Animalia
    Class: Mammalia
    Order: Perissodactyla
    Family: Equidae
    Listing Status: Endangered
    Where Listed: WHEREVER FOUND

    Read what Miss Abby posted:


  13. I know that we’ve all been down this path before. For what it is worth, even though there is no permanent IG in Interior, I suggest we send this information as well as the release of the judge’s finding regarding the BLM’s stubborn insistence on remaining scientifically ignorant.

    If this is being driven by the meat industry (which would explain why there is no concern for animal or human health) particularly if one of these black markets needs to fill orders by a certain date, it will take a walk through hell to get this stopped.

    I can hardly bear to think of these short legged little burros covered with thick coats, pregnant, lactating, and old being put through this. The fact that the BLM is even considering this round-up should disqualify them forever from managing our wild horses and burros.

    Tax payers should not be expected to fund government sponsored animal cruelty.


  14. Wild Burros ARE endangered, WHEREVER FOUND. The documents are there. The Science is there. Never have they been more endangered than now, in the Texas State Parks and in the Mojave Desert. This is a race to the finish line, and we have to be swift. There is MONEY at stake, and lots of it. We play by the rules…”they” don’t.
    All of the Powers of Right are on our side.


  15. When you go to the BLM/Yuma Field Office web page, you will see the notice of the
    Cibola Trigo Wild Burro roundup AND you will also see the other entities who want to use the Public Lands. How much of this involves water usage?

    Quartzsite Solar Project

    Maps & Documentation
    Notice of Availability (FRN)
    How to Get Involved

    Solar Energy Links

    Active Projects
    Sonoran Project
    Quartzsite Project
    Hyder Valley Project
    Solar Energy Rental Rates Announced
    Pending Solar Projects
    Solar Energy Development Programmatic EIS

    Energy Program Links

    Wind & Solar Projects

    Renewable Energy

    Solar Energy
    Wind Energy
    National Priority Renewable
    Energy Projects for 2012
    Renewable Energy Information Clearinghouse
    Energy Newsroom

    Restoration Design Energy Project Draft EIS Released
    Solar Energy Zones Temporarily Segregated Under Interim Rule
    Active Projects

    List of Active Energy Projects
    APS Transmission Line
    Restoration Design Energy Project
    SunZia Southwest Transmission
    Southline Transmission
    General Energy Information

    National BLM Energy Web Site




    • Chambers of Judge Beryl A. Howell
      U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
      E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse
      333 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room 6600
      Washington, D.C. 20001




  18. Why do they use helicopters for burros anyway? Seems like massive overkill and highly abusive for these slow moving animals? Why not horseback or ATVs at slow speed? Let’s get helicopter round ups in the dead of summer heat banned for good. No helicopters in the heat on our burros!


  19. So the BLM “prepared” an environmental impact statement for these solar projects??
    Considering what wonderful scientific EISs they are preparing regarding the horses & burros,
    somehow I would be a little hesitant to believe them!
    It seems no matter where the horses & burros are – theres someone just aching to get rid of them
    so “progress” can be made.
    Honestly, it sounds like all the jennies in one area were either taken in the last roundup or treated with PZP. No foals to be seen. Sure doesnt sound to me like these little guys are exactly over populating the area, now does it?
    Always thought solar & wind power was a good thing – but somehow, it sounds just as destructive as any coal, oil, & gas mess – maybe not to the environment, but to the creatures who LIVE here.
    These roundups are just SO wrong –


    • I always thought that wild equines could co-exist with most kinds of “progress”, except for huge open pit mines or mountaintop removal kind of backward industries.


  20. There’s lots more too:

    In March of 1981, the U.S. Navy secretly shot and killed 648 burros at the Naval Weapons Center in China Lake, California. The Animal Legal Defense Fund – stepped in after they heard about the 2010 mass murder and were able to save some burros but now China Lake is getting ready to capture more this year and the “word” is that they are want to capture them because the burros have been seen eating the LAWN of the office!

    And that’s not all!
    Chocolate-Mule Mountain Herd Area – Palo Verde nuisance burros removals: Approximately 20 – 30 burros would be removed which are utilizing the agricultural fields near the town of Palo Verde, California .
    Piute Mountain Herd Area: Approximately 30 burros would be removed.
    Goldstone Deep Space Communication Center within Fort Irwin – 14 burros in June 2012.
    China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station – Gather 90 burros in September 2012.

    And the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and scientists including the Curator of North American Mammals and Chief of Mammal Section, National Biological Service, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC, USA say the burros are an endangered species “wherever found” All of this information was sent to the Yuma BLM as comments to the Cibalo-Trigo EA and it is required that they take a “hard look” at all information available during the NEPA process. And BLM says they don’t care or what ?!?!?


  21. While we are discussing the fate of our wild burros, we might as well look at some facts verses what the BLM published in their Cibalo-Trigo wild burros capture environmental assessment.

    BLM said there was a “high adoption demand for wild burros”. Does 20% sound like a high adoption rate to you? Not too many HMAs even have burros but northern California’s Twin Peaks HMA does and per the BLM data (FOIA dated 11/10/2011) 162 burros were captured in September of 2010. Out of those:
    20% were adopted.
    9% died within the 13 months from pneumonia and other complications including 2 who died during foaling within a month of being captured (do you think that the trauma of the capture had anything to do with that?)
    30% were still at the Litchfield holding facility (there is no long term holding “green pastures” for burros … they spend the remainder of their lives standing in a corral at a BLM holding facility – I have seen it myself)
    32% were trucked around the country to other BLM holding facilities to stand around for the remainder of their lives.
    One was released (“word” has it that he was too ornery to handle?)
    One was sent to the Carson City prison and what do we think happened to that young burro?
    And perhaps worst of all 9% were sold to an unknown and questionable buyer from Colorado (and I know what I think happened to those burros).

    So when BLM published a legal document (the EA) that said that the burros had a “high adoption demand” … I personally know they were not telling the truth and they have no scientific facts to back up their bogus “high adoption demand” statement… and now YOU know too. (FOIA data available upon request)

    This questionable BLM “high adoption demand” statement was officially presented to the IBLA judge who has not yet made an official decision and perhaps you may want to POLITELY send him/her a letter asking for a careful review of this data and the “error” in the BLM Cibalo-Trigo environmental assesment statement.

    Interior Board of Land Appeals
    801 North Quincy Street, Suite 300
    Arlington, Virginia 22203
    And refer to IBLA 2012-143


  22. What is abundantly clear to me is the commercialization of our public lands. In the early 90’s in Texas the parks officials were told to approach their management of the parks as entrepreneurs. They were told to find ways to make money, and this is what they have done leaving range and wildlife management as second in line to monied interests. This is why they ignore science and refuse to do the obviously needed studies. Science will interfere with profits. It gets even better. The superintendents were given the added incentive of getting a percentage of the profits, so Katy bar the door, the race was on and the wildlife became the enemy if they did not fit into a business plan. With hunting becoming an ever increasing rich man’s sport, bighorn became the proverbial golden goose of wildlife. In the officials way of thinking, any other animal that ate one single blade of grass that could have gone to a bighorn, must be shot. The sickness is pervasive.

    Yet, sadly what they fail to understand is the complexity of nature. They fail to understand that each of the species being slaughtered relentlessly and without remorse played an important role in the well being of the land and other wildlife. Nature is incredibly complex. leave it alone and things will fall into balance and flourish. Continue to play God, and the whole thing will collapse. It will be a bitter pill to watch as even the bighorn are unable to survive when the habitat crashes, but this is what will happen in the end. I find no joy in making this statement. Only sadness.

    What follows is a letter written to a supporter of Wild Burro Protection League Christopher Gill, by Allan Savory of the Savory Institute. They both are proving that holistic range management works. This means more animals, not less. Please look at these sites, you will not be disappointed. and

    Dear Chris,
    Thanks for the information concerning the dispute over the burros. Such arguments and disputes over deteriorating land, noxious plants/animals and disappearing wildlife are endless and global as I experience working in the US. Mexico, Canada, all over Africa, Australia, South America, etc. Frankly if we remove all emotion, institutional and professional egos and look objectively at nothing but the science neither side has the answers. Some of the points you are making are closer to the science but as you note are fueling conflict and disagreement that could continue for years.
    For these reasons I am not going to get into the middle of this argument. However I will provide information that both sides might consider and I will suggest a way to resolve the conflict for the betterment of all wildlife and you are free to publish anything I write.
    David Wetzel writes “Most importantly I feel that it is imperative that we as conservationists support science based efforts at wildlife and habitat management. The best source of that science is Texas Parks and Wildlife.” So there is a starting point in that both sides agree solutions should be science-based but are arguing over the science with TP&W regarding themselves as the authorities. I will return to this the most critical point that any solution be science-based.
    The native vs non-native argument is a side issue. This concept arose for good reason because there is danger in introducing a species (especially predators to a new environment). However this has now got out of hand implying that any organism that enters a new environment does not abide by ecological principles and thus has to be eradicated at all cost. Consequently many millions of dollars are wasted every year in the US “eradicating” non-native species with not one success that I am aware of anywhere. And as you point out because no date was set we see obviously non-native Americans are called Native Americans. In your dispute you are dealing with currently the problem is one of serious desertification blamed on the burros. That habitat concern is the issue having nothing to do with any species. I guarantee, and do so now in writing, that if all the burros are shot desertification will continue. This mistake I made in the 1960‟s when my research “proved” too many elephants were causing similar desertification in a major national parks. We shot some 20,000 and it became worse because I, and the committee of ecologists appointed to review my research and approved, was wrong. Like all scientists we interpreted the data to fit the paradigm of our training. When the US government shot 50,000 sheep to stop the desertification of the Navajo lands it became worse but despite the passage of many years the paradigm remains fixed.
    These pictures published in the “Position Paper on Climate Change.
    International Society for Range Management” 2009 by –Joel R. Brown, USDA – NRCS, Robert R. Blank, USDA – ARS, Guy R. McPherson, University of Arizona
    Kenneth W. Tate, University of California Davis are relevant to your situation.
    “The picture on the top is a view of a desert grassland in southern New Mexico in 1961. The picture below is the same view in 2002. Livestock had been excluded from the site in the 1950s, but processes resulting in the replacement of grasses continued.” (Italics mine) Pictures courtesy of Jornada Experimental Range USDA.
    As you will note, in a peer reviewed paper concerning the gravest problem facing humanity –climate change – the authorities refer to mysterious “processes” with no peer reviewer questioning it because the statement comes from authorities. If you or I wrote such stuff it would not pass peer review by the academic authorities. TP&W have no more idea than these authors of what is causing the desertification and habitat destruction they intend to reverse by shooting the burros.
    I could send many more pictures of similar serious desertification occurring when all livestock were removed. One more will suffice.
    This is wilderness area under management by National Parks Service of the US and it shows the state of the land some 70 years after removal of all livestock, and having had hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on range conservation measures. Clearly the Federal NPS, like TP&W have no idea what is causing such severe desertification as bad as anything in Africa. Lately I note mainstream institutional scientists world-wide are blaming such desertification on climate change despite the fact that the climate has not yet changed and such desertification has been occurring for thousands of years before coal and oil and gas exploitation.
    This is a global problem of profound importance not simply a Texas problem. Long blamed on livestock, desertification is occurring where it should not be happening – on research stations in the US, Pakistan, Africa, Australia, in countless protected plots, in national parks and wilderness areas. After many years of grappling with this mystery and following early clues in Africa while working with many scientists in their individual capacities (outside institutional peer pressures), as well as doing research beyond range science, the cause of desertification was finally discovered in about 1984. Since then
    privately people have been reversing desertification over million acres on four continents. Only now are institutions rapidly beginning to collaborate with the Savory Institute on which this work is centered internationally. This was the work that won Australia‟s international Banksia Award in 2000 for doing the most for the environment on a global scale, and won last year‟s Buckminster Fuller Challenge for the work offering the greatest hope in dealing with humanity‟s most challenging issues. Texas does not function ecologically any differently so there is great hope if all involved can set aside their anger long enough to learn.
    The cause of desertification when finally understood was something totally unexpected. It is simply the way humans make decisions using one Core Framework. In this all actions are taken, and policies formed, toward an objective. All actions involve using a „tool‟ and the only tools humans use to manage the environment at large are – (i) technology in some form (ii) resting environment or (iii) using fire. And all decisions are based on one or more factors – research results, expert opinion, peer pressure, friend‟s advice, intuition, cost, profitability, compromise, expediency, cultural norms, etc, etc.
    In your case the authority‟s policy objective to improve the range involves the objective of shooting the burros. The tools used will be (i) technology (rifle) and (ii) increased rest of the land. And they made this decision based on research results, expert opinion, peer pressure, cost and many other factors.
    There are sophisticated schools of decision making in places like Harvard, West Point, Sandhurst, etc but peel the onion and at the core is always this framework that is incredibly successful with all things we “make” – buildings, dams, bombs, computers, genetic engineering – NASA put a man on the moon using this framework. However if honest we note the core framework is less successful with things we “manage” – economies, agriculture, desertification, climate change, etc. The former are termed “complicated” and the latter “complex” in Systems Science jargon.
    There are two reasons why using the core framework to form their policy as Texas P & W are doing will lead to continued desertification – first objectives never deal with complexity (of nature, society and economy) that is essential to successful policy. Secondly there is, in the core framework, no tool that can reverse desertification – no aspect of technology can ever ensure rapid biological decay essential in such environments. And the other two tools resting land and use of fire both lead to desertification. So in your case shooting all the burros can only cause conflict (as it is doing) and can never solve the problem. Hence my guarantee that desertification will continue. I do not want to spend time on it here but it is also the reason why the solutions you are proposing will disappoint you – you too I note have an objective and objectives, without holistic context, simply do not work in policy.
    Over the years working on this problem we developed the holistic framework to enhance the core framework by addressing two flaws in the core framework that affect dealing with complexity in natural resource policies and desertification. It is the use of this holistic framework that leads people to solutions they themselves establish – just as all of
    you in your conflict will do eventually. During the days of the Carter Administration USDA engaged me to train 2,000 officials in the use of the holistic framework. Training included officials from all major agencies (SCS, FS, BLM, BIA) as well as faculty from land grant colleges (TX, NM and AZ) as well as national and state parks services including Texas. Participants brought many policy examples so they could train on their own policies. Although a great many policies from all over the US were studied – wildlife, forestry, drought, flood, noxious plants, range management mainly – participants concluded not a single policy would succeed and most would have unintended consequences causing increased damage. One group in this training made the recorded unanimous statement “We now recognize that unsound resource management is universal in the US”. This is published (p 547) in the textbook “Holistic Management: A New Decision Making Framework” 1999 Island Press.
    This finding on US policies is not my opinion but the conclusion of a great many bright people. As with all new scientific insights over centuries a handful of vocal and active people with standing as the top authorities within their institutions vigorously rejected the holistic framework. Now over 30 years later public opinion is shifting as increasingly people acknowledge that what authorities have been dictating is not working.
    So where do you go from here? Looking at the research on how new scientific paradigms gain acceptance it appears you have only two alternatives:
    1. Battle on in conflict. The authorities will win (As David Wetzel stated “The best source of that science is Texas Parks and Wildlife”) and they will shoot the burros – the land will continue to desertify – public knowledge will increase along with anger and demand for holistically sound policy. All are losers and much time lost along with wildlife.
    2. The alternative I urge you to act on is to have the great majority of concerned people not take sides but insist on an open enquiry into the science behind US range and wildlife management. All of you if genuine in wanting science-based solution should welcome open investigation in the science supporting range and wildlife management. A congressional enquiry or by some other acceptable body with academic authorities unable to control evidence. Do not limit it to Texas because the desertification of the western US is appalling and is not only resulting in loss of wildlife, but in cultural genocide as western ranching culture dies along with the productivity of the land.
    When deeply held beliefs have assumed scientific validity and people (ranchers, environmentalists, academics and government officials) have lived their lives and built their entire careers on such beliefs frankly only open public enquiry has any hope of moving ahead faster than waiting for people to die. Sayings such as – you can measure the eminence of any scientist by the number of years he/she holds up progress – develop for good reason.
    No one is being stupid, objectionable or unreasonable it is simply how scientific paradigms change over time unless something like a public enquiry can speed the process. An open enquiry will I assure you lead to a win win for all after which TP&W will be able to formulate a sound policy without conflict and supported by all reasonable people and the problem desertification will start to be reversed.
    Time is no longer on our side with the extent of desertification of the US and it‟s role in climate change.
    Allan Savory



    California 2005 — Death of a Mojave National Preserve Burro
    By J.& K. Foster
    In June of 2005, a wildfire in the Mojave National Preserve destroyed 70,000 acres and burned out several homes. The National Park Service (NPS) requested and received $84,500.00 in federal funds for burro removal from the burn area. They scheduled a roundup of all burros in the area and, over a period of about ten days in September, helicopters were used to catch 40+ burros, none of which came from the burn area.
    When I got the call that they were holding burros at Kessler Springs Ranch, which had been turned into a Ranger Facility, I called BLM to see why we were not informed they would be gathering burros. It was not a BLM operation, so no one except Park Rangers and wranglers hired by NPS was over-seeing the roundup to make sure animals were safe. The burros that were captured were kept behind locked gates with big NO TRESPASSING SIGNS.
    One day during the roundup, the wranglers located a beautiful large Jack (i.e. a male burro). They began chasing him until they literally ran him to collapse. One of the wranglers said, “Oh he has had a heart attack and died” so he started jumping up and down on the Jack’s abdomen. He would pick his head up by his ears and slam the head into the ground. The burro was exhausted he had no way to fight back. He was not dead when they left him. He was bleeding from the nose and the mouth. Chances are when the so-called “cowboy” jumped up and down on the Jack’s abdomen it probably crushed ribs, which punctured lungs. He may have even crushed the skull.
    The wranglers asked a film crew present at the scene if they would use this film against them; the crew said they were no longer filming but cameras kept rolling. They sent me still shots of the Jack over what looks to be a 12-14 hour period. He died a terrible, slow, lonely death. They would have been more humane by shooting him to put an end to his suffering, but they did not even give him that much respect or dignity.


    • What kind of a demented poor excuse for human being did that………. OMG !!!! This is what walks among us freely???


    • The “cowboy” is is not an idiot but a very cruel one at that. How he got away without cruelty charges thrown at him is questionable.


  24. why don’t they do the roundup the old fashioned way, with horses, men and a chuck wagon. this way it’s less expensive than the chopper, and the herd can only move as fast as the men and horses in the hot weather. this is crazy. why do we let them do this? this is public land. why aren’t we going there and stopping this? the blm manages it, they don’t own it. they can’t keep us from being there. i’m disabled but i can ride if someone loans me a horse.


  25. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter “who” said helicopter round-ups shouldn’t be done in temps. 90 degrees or more. The BLM does NOT care, nor will they ever care. They do whatever the hell they want to do, don’t we all know that already? It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to know not to do something like this. People know it’s not right, but they continue doing it anyway. We hear constantly not to leave our pets , or our children (duh! no-brainer!!), in hot cars, but sadly idiots still do it, we hear of tragedies like this every summer, somewhere. We need to shut down, permanently stop the BLM, nothing less, nothing more, period! They are, & continue to be, guilty of animal cruelty & abuse non-stop, & they just keep on getting away with it, at the expense of many innocent equine lives. They do not care, we need to put a stop to them, NOW!! Anyone who can work for a animal-hating organization like the “Bureau of LAND Management”, has no heart, feelings or compassion. Why can’t they just actually manage the land, & have animal biologists, conservation experts, & others who actually know something about animals, take care of all the wildlife, including all the wild equines!


  26. The BLM, the “Brutal- Lawbraking- Mismanagement” , those men ,[ not men but Cowards], they should vanish off this earth. They do not deserve to live amongst us. They are just plain EVIL . Where are the Judges. Where is the System, Can’t they see what is going on? The BLM, those Brutal-Lawbraking-Monsters. We all are watching, even the World is watching, We all are aware, . we all are fighting against this Evil. Why can’t we do more, why can’t we confront those Evil Cowards, We have 1000000’sss voices behind us. I pray for the Burros and I pray for the WildHorses. Why, Oh Why, do they have to fall in the hands of Evil. No, the BLM, [ mocking of their title Stewards], they may VANISH off this Earth, THEN, it will be a better place for all living Beeings..,


  27. I keep thinking of the burros and what will hit them tomorrow.

    In the meantime, another stampede may occur in Jackson Mtn., because of the so called drought. BLM is horrid, wants to eliminate our wild equines, and no one will do anything about it.


    • I hope we all can see that it is more than a coincidence that all of a sudden the federal register has announced a clarification for the wild burros as a species. This has been done because the IBLA judge has not made his/her decision on this legal complaint stating that the BLM did not take a “hard look” as is required by NEPA law, at the scientific information provided to them stating that the wild burros are an endangered species before making their decision to capture the Cibalo-Trigo burros. The agencies (BLM and FWS) have realized they have been hit in a very sensitive spot and are trying to cover themselves.

      Basically speaking the 1977 notice was a political driven notice and nothing more. Then afterward the U.S. Fish and Wildlife acknowledged that this species was endangered “where found”. This then would include the wild burros of America. The ITIS with references to the head of the Smithsonian and others, state that this species Equus Asinus, includes the “feral” (I hate that word – wild is a better word) burro. “Species Equus asinus Linnaeus, 1758 – African wild ass, ass, burro, burro (feral)”

      Now , back to the federal register announcement … the feds don’t care how many people write to them … we won’t make a drop of difference to their decision if we don’t have facts and science.

      We need to remember that the feds DO have biologists behind them and big bucks to “buy” more if they want (some are buyable – especially those being funded by feds). We also need to put this in perspective … the feds DO NOT want the burros to be proven endangered species because that would put them near the clasification of the sage grouse that has been scaring the beejsus out of BLM and FS and the burros verification would do the same. This is big bucks – billions of fed (BLM) money (mining leases and trophy hunter organizations etc etc) could be lost due to this decision and be aware that we are not playing with honest people here.

      So… lots of background work to do first before writing to the federal register and I think we need to do this strategically because there is a lot at stake … for our future generations both two-legged and four-legged.

      Here is more information:


  28. sorry having trouble posting here… this links to a recent update by Fish and Wildlife Service changing name of species … I think they’re up to something… as in continuing to ignore endangered species status of our burros.

    Click to access 2012-13421.pdf

    from this very new document, dated June 5, 2012:
    “SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and
    Wildlife Service, announce the revised
    taxonomy of Equus asinus (African wild
    ass) under the Endangered Species Act
    of 1973, as amended (Act). We are
    revising the List of Endangered and
    Threatened Wildlife to reflect the
    current scientifically accepted
    taxonomy and nomenclature of this
    species. We revise the scientific name of
    this species as follows: Equus africanus
    (formerly E. asinus).
    DATES: This rule will become effective
    on August 6, 2012, without further
    action, unless significant adverse
    comments are received by July 5, 2012.
    If adverse comment is received, we will
    publish a timely withdrawal of the rule
    in the Federal Register.
    ADDRESSES: You may submit comments
    by one of the following methods:
    • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// Follow the
    instructions for submitting comments.
    • U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public
    Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R9–
    ES–2011–0095; Division of Policy and
    Directives Management; U.S. Fish and
    Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive,
    MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
    We will post all comments on This
    generally means that we will post any
    personal information you provide us
    (see the Public Comments section below
    for more information). “


    • ok, here it is, further in the document, clarifying the status of domestic burros as NOT being endangered… not now and not ever having been… their words:
      “In a ‘‘Notice of Clarification of Status
      of Wild Burros’’ (March 24, 1977; 42 FR
      15973), the Service stipulated that ‘‘the
      western wild burro has never been
      considered for designation as an
      endangered species. Equus asinus has
      always been treated administratively as
      a foreign species and was never
      included on a native list of endangered
      species. Furthermore, the procedural
      requirements for consultation with
      affected States during the listing of a
      native species were never complied
      with. An undesignated native
      population of a listed foreign species
      cannot be bootstrapped into coverage
      under the 1973 Act because of a clerical
      ambiguity with the list’’ (42 FR 15974).
      It is clear that the Service intended to
      list the African wild ass in its entirety,
      but not to list feral populations of once-
      domesticated burros and donkeys.
      However, the March 24, 1977, document
      failed to clarify the status of
      domesticated burros and donkeys.”


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