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The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is planning to send America’s supposedly “protected” wild burros to Guatemala, where the once free-roaming wild burros may well become beasts of burden for poor rural Guatemalans with, most likely, little spare income for farriers or veterinary care (if there were any even available). Guatemala is one of the poorest countries in Latin America.
BLM plans to ship the burros about 2, 000 miles. The food for burros will certainly differ between the USA and Guatemala. The BLM recently had about 80 wild mare’s die, supposedly from stress, shipping the mares from one location to another WITHIN KANSAS.
Will the burros be shipped by ground, through regions with drug gangs? There are many human rights violations in Guatemala, so why would American burros be safe in this environment?
The BLM’s “From the Public” page, states this:
Question: Is the BLM looking into a wild burro-related partnership that would benefit small-scale farmers in Guatemala?
Answer: Yes, the BLM, which is dealing with limits on its off-range holding capacity for wild horses and burros, is exploring the feasibility of a wild burro-related partnership with the Defense Services Cooperation Agency and Heifer International (http://www.heifer.org).
To begin with, there isn’t a “Defense SERVICES Cooperation Agency” listed anywhere on the internet, but there IS a DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
Anyhow, putting this (seemingly) error aside, the BLM goes on to state:
The prospective partnership would provide gentled, sale-eligible wild burros under BLM management to assist communities and farmers in Guatemala, where burros are prized working animals and expensive for families in poverty to buy. If the partnership were to move forward, the gentled burros would help carry water, crops, and other supplies.
I wonder if the BLM realizes that a terrible problem for equine already exists in Guatemala, and humane organizations are trying desperately to help?
American Veterinary Medical Association volunteers in Guatemala have often encountered severe saddle sores in horses.
World Horse Welfare observes “Working hard to transport crops through dense forests, these horses often have high physical demands placed upon them.”
And “During our research it became clear that the horses of Zaragoza worked long days with cracked, misshapen hooves and poorly-fitted shoes, which were often too small and causing pain. Many had wounds caused by ill-fitting harnesses and were in very poor bodily condition. It was frequently clear that the owners did care for their horses, but lacked the necessary skills and knowledge to look after them properly. This, coupled with the fact that skilled, locally-available farriers and affordable saddlers did not exist, meant that horses working in the Zaragoza area were enduring a life of unnecessary suffering.”
The Brooke Organization states “Reaching working horses, donkeys and mules and their owners and users in much of Guatemala is hard because of the mountainous terrain which can create access problems and the distances between communities can be large.”
So HOW in the world does the BLM, or its partners, plan to closely monitor the care of the American wild burros, and HOW OFTEN will they monitor them?
Animal Aware states “Animals are generally not well treated in Guatemala. They are usually regarded as something which serves a purpose – as food, or as a source of work, such as carrying loads, or guarding the house. A domestic animal is often not so much seen as a pet, but as a status symbol. Guatemala is a poor country, and conditions are tough and life difficult for many people. Poverty combined with a non-benevolent attitude towards animals makes for a largely unhealthy situation, for domestic animals, and for animals in general.”
Wild Horse Freedom Federation does not think this BLM plan is in the best interests of American wild burros and calls for an immediate halt to this plan. There is no possible way for our burros to be adequately monitored in Guatemala.