When I read a Letter to the Editor (below) written by Heidi Hopkins of HSUS, I almost had a conniption fit (whatever that is, I almost had one). She asks “Why isn’t fertility control being used on wild burros?”
Fertility control shouldn’t be used on wild burros because there are hardly any left on our public lands. On the BLM’s most recent “Herd Area and Herd Management Area Statistics” report, the BLM claimed there were only 8,394 burros in the entire U.S.
We all know that the BLM exaggerates its numbers by doubling or tripling the true number, so there may, in reality, only be 4,000 or fewer wild burros. But even if there were 8,394 wild burros, 5,000 adults are the minimum number needed to preserve them. Why suggest using fertility control on wild burros that are at such a low population level that they could be considered endangered?
You stated below that the BLM in Billings, Montana (Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range) said they’re “on the cusp of nearly eliminating the need for wild horse removals due to the use of PZP.”
The BLM established an Appropriate Management Level (AML) of only 90- 120 wild horses on the Pryors, excluding current year foals. (Dr. Gus Cothran has stated that 120-150 BREEDING AGE ADULTS are needed for a viable herd.) So, maybe there won’t be roundups, but the BLM is on the cusp of another way to get rid of wild horses & burros: minimally reproducing herds and non reproducing herds.
And I have a question for you.
Why isn’t the HSUS sending out e-mails to their members and writing letters to the Editor demanding an Amendment to ALL BLM Resource Management Plans to make sure wild horse and burro AMLs are set to viable herd levels (120-150 BREEDING AGE ADULTS)? HSUS should move forward with this. – Debbie
Heidi Hopkins: Why isn’t fertility control being used on wild burros?
The Bureau of Land Management should start using fertility control on wild burro herds right away (“Our View: BLM should trade in burro roundups for fertility control,” Mar. 23).
Fertility control, specifically porcine zona pellucida, is being used on various wild horses throughout the country and has proven effective. In fact, in a press release issued last week the BLM field office in Billings, Montana announced they are “on the cusp of nearly eliminating the need for wild horse removals due to the use of PZP.”
So why not use this same technology on wild burros? The Humane Society of the United States has proposed to the BLM a large-scale fertility control research project on wild burros and has stepped forward with funding through The Platero Project, a grant awarded to The HSUS to assist with the cost of the work. In the meantime, the burros have been busy reproducing.
Wild burros are extremely well adapted to the harsh desert environment and deserve to live their life out on the range where they have been for the past 200 years. BLM’s typical management actions of gather, remove and adopt are not sustainable.
There are currently over 800 formerly wild burros in holding awaiting adoption already. BLM should move forward with fertility control.