Wild Burros

11th Hour for Arizona’s Wild Burros

OpEd by Marjorie Farabee ~Director of Wild Burro Affairs at Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Time is short; comments must be received by 5pm May 2, 2015 at BLM_AZ_KFOweb.@blm.gov or cbenson@blm.gov

The burros have never had it easy with our government agencies. The fox is guarding the hen house when it comes to protections for this nation’s icons of our pioneering past. They are symbols of our culture and living natural icons of our pioneering history. Yet, our own governmental agency which is tasked with protecting our wild burros and horses, because of this important connection to our past, is cavalierly managing them to extinction without remorse.

photo by Marjorie Farabee of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

photo by Marjorie Farabee of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The Black Mountain HMA is presently 1.1 million acres, but if developers of wind, gas, and agriculture have their way this HMA will soon be reduced and all the wildlife living on it will suffer. In the BLM count of 2013 the burro population came to just over 700 animals, yet they would have us believe that the population has grown to a whopping 1600-1800 burros in one short year and a half. This means even the jacks are having twins and they are all immortal.

Recently, Simone Netherlands, representing Respect4Horses (R4H), and myself, representing Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF), joined up to attend both scoping meetings being held by the BLM in Kingman and Bullhead City, AZ.  The BLM’s presentation of damage caused by wild burros was lacking in scientific data or actual observation from reputable studies.  They simply showed a photo zeroed in on a small area that would have some plants which were grazed or damaged.  This was their “proof” that wild burros were damaging the desert.  When the HMA was set up in 1974 there were over 2000 burros living easily on this land. Now, the number allowed has been reduced to a mere 478 burros for this vast HMA. Meanwhile cattle are grazed with well over 5000 acknowledged as grazing on the land. At the scoping meetings held by the BLM at both Bullhead City and Kingman the public was told the entire HMA was degraded by burros. Of course, no cattle were mentioned as being detrimental. In fact, I had to pry an acknowledgement that cattle were even present on the HMA out of the BLM representative.  Roger Oyler then answered questions I had about the mapping.  He confirmed that the ruling in WY concerning wild horses on checkerboard land gave them the right to remove the checker boarded areas from the Black Mountain HMA.  He further explained the yellow area west of Kingman, called Golden Valley, will also be taken from the HMA. Neither he nor Chad Benson would give us the targeted number of burros in their sites for removal from the Black Mountain HMA.

At these meetings the public was not allowed to ask questions in an open forum.  We were asked to walk up to individual representatives of the BLM and ask our questions privately thus denying the attending public access to the concerns raised by the question, or the answers provided.  The public would have been saddened to learn that the BLM is planning to not only reduce the number of wild burros by an unspecified amount, they are planning to reduce the size of the HMA as well.  Another issue brought up was the burros crossing 95 in Bullhead City.  The area where they are crossing is still legally a part of the Black Mountain HA and provides direct access to the Colorado River which is an important water source for the burros and all other wildlife in the area. (That 10-mile strip is STILL legally designated (by 1971 Congress) for wild horses and burro. It is still HA (Herd Area) land. “Wild horses and burros are supposed to be treated as “components of the public lands”. 16 U.S.C. § 1333(a) The law is clear that “wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death” and entitled to roam free on public lands where they were living at the time the Act was passed in 1971. 16 U.S.C. § 1331 These legally protected areas are known as “herd areas,” and are defined as “the geographic area identified as having been used by a herd as its habitat in 1971.” 43 C.F.R. § 4700.0-5(d).”  – Animal Law Coalition (available online) Rather than provide passage over or under the HWY they have decided to zero out the burros in the area.  These provisions could have been made when the roadways were under construction.  Now, resulting collisions with burros are providing an excuse for their removal from the area.  Moreover, “There is no authority for BLM’s “herd management areas” under WFRHBA. The BLM has authorized itself to divide herd areas into “herd management areas“, something not authorized by WFRHBA. 43 CFR 4710.3-1. In this way, with no statutory authority at all, BLM has limited wild horses and burros’ access to thousands of acres that were historically their herd areas. This is done without thought about the horses’ seasonal migration patterns or available resources. The BLM then removes wild horses and burros from the artificially created “herd management areas” on the basis there is insufficient forage, water or habitat! BLM also targets them for removal if they cross the artificial boundaries into their original herd areas.”- Animal Law Coalition (available online)

As we delve deeper into the reasons for the inflated new burro numbers and safety accusations toward the burros we are finding reports about wind development with several projects in the works and others moving through the approval process.  Other contributors are proposed agricultural development which along with wind development will further deplete already depleted water resources.  It is important to note, that the Black Mountain HMA boasts the largest population of bighorn sheep in the nation.  In fact, it is well documented that the hunting clubs have long wanted burros removed from habitat where bighorn sheep reside, citing resource conflicts as their reason for wanting them removed.  http://www.sierraclub.org/policy/wildlife/feral-animals

As we traveled hundreds of miles through the Black Mountain HMA exploring, what we saw was a beautiful desert full of life and forage. Burros were scarce, but friends in the area will continue to dig into the fitness of the range for me while WHFF continues its investigation into the real reason large sections of the HMA are about to be stripped away from these mountain canaries. What a lovely song I heard as I stayed during the night listening to the burros call each other through the mountains. Each voice was different and ethereal as the sound echoed through the mountain.  It was magical. It saddens me to know that their song may soon be quiet and never heard again if special interests get their way. My history and culture are worth fighting for, and these burros deserve to be considered as a part of these lands now and forever more. They earned it.

Thank you for helping the burros stay free!

Comments must be received by 5pm May 2, 2015 at BLM_AZ_KFOweb.@blm.gov or cbenson@blm.gov

For additional information you can contact:

Marjorie Farabee at 281-235-5288


Simone Netherlands at 928-308-6718

25 replies »

  1. The BLM seems to be a dept of its own making with no oversight. Changing the rules as it benefits them or their masters, the cattle ranchers. Sally Jewell is nothing more than an appointed bureaucrat posing in hiking gear. Her credentials are sorely lacking in this issue and the BLM and Forest Service act independently of the DOI. Voicing your questions in private to a BLM representative who couldn’t care less about what you have to say. Really?


  2. So what are you going to do RT. thanks for sharing. Will forward.. These people are true terrorists…where’s homeland security?


      • More than realized. Horses and burros and the claims of proslaughter that caring compassionate animal people are terrorists keeps tensions high for the wrong reasons. Federal eyes should be on the Blm rogue activities and I noticed alot of proslaughter folks are watching their propaganda posts arent overreaching. Both sides are watched constantly sadly but not those burros. Stinks. More eyes on words than on the animals needing protections.


      • If those supporting slaughter consider those of us speaking up for wildlife “terrorists”, things are worse than I thought.. NOTHING will EVER stop all of us from doing ALL we can to help our wild ones, legally, through all of our voices, and through the judicial system when necessary. They cannot and will not silence us. One thing we CAN all do is VOTE for lawmakers who actually CARE about the future of our wild horses, burros and all other creatures…..one thing all those in state and fed govt have in common, they ALL want to be re-elected! If you want to know your lawmakers records on how they have voted on animal-related legislation, check out the Animal Welfare Institute’s website http://www.compassionindex.org
        Some of you will be surprised by what you find, others won’t. Americans are FINALLY waking up to this all-out war on wildlife, thank God. Our collective voices and actions can and will outdo ALL the $$ spent by those trying to wipe out our horses and burros, but only if we keep it up. And social media has been very successful in helping to spread the word!!!!. SO KEEP ON SPEAKING OUT AMERICA!!!!!


  3. I Understanding that there is a law against animal abuse in United States. Are you above the law how do you get by with this better yet how do you sleep at night I’m a America tax payer I want the wild horse and burros to remain on the land my taxes pay for.


    • Penny, thank you, you have lots of company! What we can all do is to keep speaking up to all these lawmakers, fed and state, and the BLM demanding better treatment for our wild ones!!! Grass roots can and does work – we elect them, we can take them out!!!!


  4. I know burros can be hard to spot because they often blend in with their habitat and I know there are canyons in this HMA but I also know there is no tree cover … but DOUBLING the population from what 3 supposed wildlife “professionals” actually counted seems very deceptive to me! Does it sound like “smoke and mirrors” to you too?

    Apparently because of this doubling of the actual census about 150 burros were subsequently removed and they have been removing them ever since – hundreds and hundreds. Per the article, more than 900 burros were removed between about 1996 and 2002.

    From an article written in the 2002 Kingman Daily Miner, “In February 2001 a census was conducted in the Black Mt. Herd Management Area. Three observers representing the Arizona Game & Fish Department, BLM and Lake Mead National Recreation Area participated in this census. The total number of animals counted was as little over 300. Based on a 50-percent sighting rate the total population was estimated at 628 animals.” https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=932&dat=20020508&id=P9pPAAAAIBAJ&sjid=D1MDAAAAIBAJ&pg=5284,3198297&hl=en

    Evidently another aerial census was done in the Black Mt. HMA about a year ago but when the data was requested from the field office, it was denied because supposedly the USGS had all the data to do an evaluation of it and the report was not ready yet. A year and it is not ready yet? And not even the raw data is available to the public? More smoke and mirrors?


    • Keep your eyes on the new USDA study on Equines…I already heard its a stacked deck and the GAO is gonna look good compared to it. They got plans….I hear this from someone high up in Animal Agriculture who really is a good indicator ofvthe next foul moves to come.


  5. The burro (E. asinus) is indigenous to North America. Ancient DNA removed from Soil sediments contemporaneous with mammoth has been found in interior Alaska. The continued removal of native species under the ruse of their being exotic, alien, or invasive while defending the priority that native species should have priority over non-indigenous species with not one supporting citation from anyone that could be considered an expert simply must stop. The burros belong here. They ancestors have been here since shortly after the Post Thermal Maximum (PTM) in the Paleocene. While it is impossible to get a paper published without attributing something to climate change, reading between the lines the only difference between European horses that survived and N. American horses that did not is that humans have not yet settled the areas of northern Europe where horses were found. Horses including burros survived every challenge, but the one they could not overcome was human fragmentation of their herds. Every hypotheses the IUCN threw out about why horses became extinct in North America has been tested or studied and eliminated ironically by scientists working from the University of Copenhagen to determine the real reasons species have become extinct. Herd fragmentation has long been recognized as a problem. In fact, the engineer who got the false exotic species listing into law wrote a paper on population fragmentation and extinction in 1976. It’s time the agencies that manage land and horses recognize that the horse is an important species and subject of scientific interest in many disciplines. This false narrative and destructive actions should shame everyone involved in creating it and concealing it.


  6. “It is no secret that many sheep enthusiasts and others, prior to the establishment of the Wild Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971, used to practice various forms of burro control to try and keep the animals in check.
    Even after the act was passed, persons violated this law by trying to do a job that they felt the BLM could not or was not willing to do, – that job being to protect the bighorns and the fragile Black Mts.
    Things finally came to a head when a couple of misguided people shot and killed 54 burros in the Cool Spring Area in 1993.
    The resulting publicity painted a horrible picture of sportsmen, who were thought to be the ones responsible for the killings.
    Despite a reward of $22,000 no one was ever prosecuted for these unlawful acts, and to this day the identity of the shooters is unknown.”

    Anyone who keeps up on our wild horse and burro issues knows that this illegal killing of our wild ones continues even today … more than we even know.



    • I didn’t know about the burros being killed, so tragic. I worry about what will happen to any removed, where do they go? What is disturbing to me also is hearing about all the wildlife being killed for no reason, all over the states………I am however encouraged to see the posts of so many people who care about all the wild ones. Gives me hope!


  7. Big horn equals big bucks
    January 25, 2015

    An Idaho hunter dropped big bucks for a chance at big horns.
    According the Idaho Fish and Game, an anonymous hunter shelled out 100,000 dollars to win a big horn sheep tag. The large sum is the fifth highest winning bid since the program started in 1988. The auction has raised more than $1.5 million dollars over the past 26 years.

    Over 3,000 hunters participated in the Idaho Wild Sheep Foundation raffle last year. Funds from both the auction and raffle are used for bighorn sheep research and management.


  8. Ok, comments sent. I also emailed them to the President. If Sally Jewell would post her email Id send them to her as well.


    • In case you ever need these:

      Sally Jewell feedback@ios.doi.gov
      Or call Sally: 202.208.3100
      Snail Mail: Department of the Interior
      1849 C Street, N.W.
      Washington DC 20240

      Bolstad, Dean
      Senior Advisor 202-912-7297

      DeLorme, Ramona
      Staff Assistant (775) 861-6583

      Hooks, Holle
      WH&B Specialist (405) 790-1066

      Kipping, Sharon
      Wild Horse & Burro Specialist (202) 912-7263

      Reichold, Zachary
      Natural Resource Specialist (202) 912-7261

      Ruf, Ross
      Wild Horse & Burro Specialist (775) 475-2222

      Spencer, Sally J
      Supervisory Marketing Specialist (202) 912-7265

      Wade, Beatrice
      Wild Horse & Burro Specialist (775) 861-6625

      Roberson, Ed
      Assistant Director, Resources and Planning
      1849 C Street NW, Rm. 5644
      Phone: 202-208-4896
      Fax: 202-208-5010

      Collins, Debbie
      Wild Horse and Burro PR (405) 790-1056

      And don’t forget your senators too – they need to know also.


  9. I just tried to send in my comment. gee, it came back, after I emailed who I know to send in their comment. As far as the comment about the blm making their rules. We, advocates, have majority of the time (99%) have obeyed the law. Blm has ALWAYS changed the law to fit their criteria. Long as the Cattle Ranchers pay them well, I guess you see the picture. THEIR NUMBERS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN TO THE EXTREME.


    • United States Bureau of Land Management
      Kingman, AZ Field Office
      2755 Mission Boulevard
      Kingman, AZ 86401-5308

      Attn: Chad Benson, Range Technician cbenson@blm.gov

      Maybe send to all 3 addresses and don’t forget the “underline” in the two email addresses. May I also suggest that you CC your letter to yourself as a receipt that you sent it.
      Good luck and thank you.


  10. Did submit my comments via email to Benson and the other blm address tnoght, but will also send to ALL the other persons provided above. Thanks to all of you for doing that – very helpful. Also plan to send to 2 TX Senators, Cruz and Cornyn, unfortunately, they have to date never been wildlife advocates, both support horse slaughter!


  11. Sent my comments letter about 45 minutes ago MDT. Not sure what zone AZ is in. I didn’t read this post until about 2:00 PM. So, I hope I did my letter justice. I tend to get wordy at 11 pages long. If it wasn’t for all the articles on Straight from the Horses’ Heart I wouldn’t know about most of the EAs & Scoping Notices. I don’t always see them in my FB news feed as I don’t check it every day, nor my email. I work on computers all day so sometimes it’s the last thing I want to do in the evenings. Let’s hope for the best on this one. Thanks everyone!


  12. I do hope they will listen. It was horrible to listen to Chad Benson describe the burros as “being so thick they did not know which way to follow”. “There were so many we lost count” They are really setting up for a massive removal although they did not specify how many they intend to remove. They did state that the target number is 478 and that there are 1600 – 1800 on the HMA. I thought the worst when I heard this.


    • If there were “so many we lost count” why didn’t Marjorie and Simone see more when they were there surveying the situation? The numbers don’t add up.


  13. Land managers please listen to the SCIENCE!!!! These animals are our heritage and they are a part of the natural environment. Removal is not the best practice. Mother nature will balance the herds.


  14. I am so dishartened to think that the BLM has zeroed in on the wild burros. These animals on our wild lands are vital to the sustainsbility of natural plant life. Please stop this round up. Pick up some books and learn . Your priorities for cattle and other uses of this land will greatly destroy more than it will help. Once again I feel as if we the people have no voice but I will never stop hoping that someone will wake up and here. Man has always destroyed more than their share. Do not be the great destroyer of our wild horses and burros also.


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