Horse News

Arizona Wild Burro Roundup Remains Controversial

by Michelle Faust as published on

“We need a little bit of a more of a hands-off approach to let them regulate naturally”

Baby Wild Burros Captured and Imprisoned by the BLM ~ photo by Terry Fitch

YUMA, Ariz. — Early morning on the Colorado River, you expect to see boats and hear a few mosquitoes; It’s rare to see boatloads of wild burros. Wranglers have driven these animals for the last several days with helicopters and on horseback, but today they are unloading the grey equine off of a barge.

Wranglers use rattles and flags to push the animals into a holding pen, from there they’ll be loaded on to vehicles that will transport them to Ridgecrest, Calif. where they will be prepared for adoption.

Since 1971, the Bureau of Land Management has been removing horses and burros from the wild across the Western United States. Burros in Arizona are believed to have been set free by miners in the 19th century.

John Hall is the Wild Horse and Burro Specialist for the local BLM.  He said the goal is to gather 350 of the 711 burros in this area.  Hall said they are a non-native species that pose a threat to other flora and fauna.

“These animals are over utilizing the native vegetation that the wildlife here depend on,” Hall said. “And when you have this overuse by the burros, it poses an immediate threat to the native wildlife.”

Conservationists dispute the number of burros the area can support and raise concerns about the use of helicopters for rounding them up in the Southwestern Arizona heat.

Congressman Raul Grijalva wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Interior requesting the animals not be gathered at temperatures above 90 degrees. This year, the policy was changed to stop corralling before temperatures hit 95.

Susanne Roy of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign said that’s a move in the right direction.

“We need a little bit of a more of a hands-off approach to let them regulate naturally. And then in those situations where they are not regulating naturally, we will then need to use a fertility vaccine to assist in that process,” Roy said. “And this will be a far more humane approach than these brutal round-ups every four years.”

Sue Cattoor is the contractor managing the roundup for the BLM.  She said the helicopters do not put as much stress on the equine as people might imagine.

“[The animal learns] to respect that helicopter, but he’s not really afraid of it,” Cattoor said. “He knows it’s back there and he’s going to keep moving away from it because they’re a flight animal, but he’s not terrified like people think they are of ’em.”

Traditionally the wild burros have had a near 100 percent adoption rate, but this year it’s less; 900 unadopted burros are in holding facilities with the BLM.

Click (HERE) to read the article in its entirety and to Comment

3 replies »

  1. (excuse me for repeating but it needs to be said again)

    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 and 13 months later, out of those captured:

    20% were adopted.
    9% died within the 13 months from pneumonia and other complications included 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 facts to back up their bogus “high adoption demand” statement… and now YOU know too. (FOIA data available upon request)

    Bottom line is … their lives are over.


  2. More from HORSEBACK:

    READER’S COMMENT from another article on HORSEBACK:

    Robert C. Bauer on June 14, 2012 at 10:50 am

    It is clear from the unwarranted brutality exhibited by the security issued by the Bureau of Land Management at this roundup, that the BLM are fearful and desperately seeking to conceal its activities. This tells me that it knows the illegalities it is carrying out by continuing these roundups, illegalities which come in many forms. In truth, there is no overpopulation of wild horses and burros out on the range lands. Indeed, the numbers are dangerously low to the point that if the roundups continue at the rate that they are, there won’t be any left in the next couple of years. Overpopulation is an illusion that the BLM continually seeks to perpetuate in the eyes of the public and congress in order to justify an unneeded wild horse and burro program, and therefore continued roundups. This illusion is carried out in a variety of ways and the numbers of wild horses and burros that the BLM assures the public are out there, exist only on paper and not in reality. The BLM consistently ignore mortality rates which according to a National Academy of Sciences study can be anywhere between 14% to 50% just in the first year of a wild horses life and between 5% to 25% for those wild horses older than this. It also ignores sex ratios which are roughly 50/50 out on the range, meaning only 50% ,give or take, are females and are able to put a foal on the ground. The illusion continues by ignoring the aggressive use of PZP, meaning those mares that are issued this contraceptive, for the next two years, are unable to produce a foal, a foal that may be male or female, and if female, as a general rule, won’t be able to reproduce for a couple of years. Many other variables are conveniently hidden, whereby, when looking at the population increases of wild horses, increases that the BLM are adamant about, reproductive rates would have to be enormous,far beyond what is conceivably possible, in many cases, over 100%, if all of the above variables were factored in. This illusion of overpopulation, the BLM are aware of, and is something that is becoming more and more apparent to the public. Yet it is not just the concept of overpopulation that the public is aware of, but also the methods by which the BLM are perpetuating this lie. It is by virtue of this, and the BLM’s escalated fear and desperation of being exposed, that such brutality has erupted. Speaking as one who has witnessed first hand, many times, conditions and numbers of wild horses and burros out on the range lands, and has tested the alleged numbers of wild horses that the BLM claim are out there, it is clear that there is no need for a wild horse and burro program and there is no overpopulation. Contrary to these claims there is very much an underpopulation of wild horses, close to point of a complete elimination of these creatures. It can also be adamantly stated that virtually every horse and burro in the holding facilities, now above 50,000 could easily be released back into their legally designated areas, and it would have no negative impact on the land, not to mention, saving the taxpayer millions of dollars every year. In truth, releasing these wild ones back into the original areas from which they were taken, and halting once and for all the roundups, would help bring balance back to the range lands of the west. The wild horses and burros are just this, wild, and in the wild is where they belong, to exist in accordance to nature’s mechanisms, and not according to mankind’s egotistical attempts in seeking to maintain a ” thriving natural ecological balance”. Only as we leave them alone in the wild, according to nature’s mechanisms, will they live on as the beautiful yet vital component of ecological balance that is so desperately needed.



    • You said it, Robert. And what are we going to do about this? Suggestions are out there. We have many drawbacks in this fight and need to address them and make change to our own ambivalence about involvement and what is effective and what is not. Technically wild horses and burros are wildlife and they have been wild and none are ‘feral’ as that is a recent condition of released animals and we have very little of that on public range or none at all. The hype and public relations we are fighting is just that and having folks with your background, Robert, are needed to speak out.

      Speak up, advocates, for what you want and how you want to get there. Beware the cult status and over romantic views of people with no accountability whose goals appear to be to continue divisive ploys and personal aggrandizement within the advocacy. Every step we have made we paid for with our money, anxiety and compassion. There are no individual successes with out the recognition of all who provided the funds. Do not leave so many rocks unturned. Do not lose your sense of outrage or sit back and wait for someone else to do it all. Be part of the solution and prevent the problems we are facing right now. Come together and make change happen.

      Stop the roundups, write air tight legislation, create a new management plan, recover captive wild horses and lands, affect change at the government level and Prevent this from happening again. Lawsuits help define and interpret laws but have not brought a stop to the drain of wild ones off the range. A strong umbrella group willing to tackle all aspects of this campaign is needed along with committed volunteers and professionals.

      Lets turn over all the rocks and find support, direction and inspiration within ourselves. There is no time left.


Care to make a comment?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.