Horse News

BLM to use Infrared to Count Wild Burros ahead of Stampede & Roundup

Source: Multiple

“They blend into the background and they don’t run. They’ll just stand there and look at you…”

“I am sorry; maybe it is too early in the morning or perhaps I have not finished off enough coffee but the article, below, confuses the living daylights out of me.  It appears at first glance that the U.S. Geological Survey‘s science center in Colorado wants to do a five year study on the wild donkeys burros of the Sinbad herd in Utah.  And before the study is fully underway the BLM is going to swoop in, stampede the poor little guys and roundup and remove over 50% of the estimated Sinbad herd population.  Isn’t that ass-backwards or is it just me?  We all have known for years that the BLM cannot count nor cipher correctly so it is probably just more smoke and mirrors to further decimate the last, few wild burros that exist on this continent.  The BLM most assuredly speaks with a forked tongue…and I am not buying the hype!!!” ~ R.T.

BLM's method of "humanely" rounding up wild burros

BLM’s method of “humanely” rounding up wild burros

Federal wildlife officials are planning to use infrared equipment to count the number of wild burros in an elusive eastern Utah herd ahead of a round-up next spring that’s part of a new in-depth study of the animals.

The Bureau of Land Management is using the equipment to sense the animals’ body heat because they tend to scatter and blend into the landscape, making them tough to count, the Deseret News reported.

“It’s cutting edge. We will be able to identify burros based off their heat signature,” said Gus Warr, wild horse and burro specialist for the BLM in Utah. “Burros are tough to identify and count because the jacks go off by themselves and the jennies and foals stick together. They blend into the background and they don’t run. They’ll just stand there and look at you.”

After the wild donkeys in the Sinbad herd are counted in January, the BLM plans to round them up and remove some because the herd has grown too large for the drought-parched land near Green River to support.

They’re looking to round up about 200 wild burros and remove about 130 of them from the range in March to get the herd closer to a sustainable 60 animals.

Wild burro captured by BLM ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Wild burro captured by BLM ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The removal is also part of a larger effort to study the Sinbad herd, which is one of just two wild burro populations in the state. Relatively little is known about the animals that roam a nearly 100,000-acre range of tough terrain in the San Rafael Swell area about 200 miles southeast of Salt Lake City. Federal officials have done roundups of the Sinbad herd three times in the last two decades: in 1996, 2001 and 2008.

“There’s surprisingly been very little research done over the years,” Warr said. “This is a huge opportunity for us because there is not much data out there. This will provide us with better management tools.”

Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey’s science center in Colorado are doing a five-year study looking at the dynamics of the herd, including factors like habitat, mortality, movements and survival rate by age.

“This is ground zero because you have to know how many of them are out there if you are going to manage them,” Warr said.

The research is an outgrowth of a 2013 report from the National Academy of Sciences criticizing the BLM for not using a more scientific approach to managing wild horses and burros on public lands.

35 replies »

  1. The blm is not a credited government agency. They are a bunch of Nazis parading around as cattlemen and not protectors of any wildlife. These guys dont have the sense of a cow and they arent fooling anybody.


  2. I do not understand the desired study. How do they intend to get accurate behavior patterns from a herd that they just terrified and rounded up? How do they plan to get behavior patterns from burros who are trapped within boundaries by the fencing put up by ranchers which restricts their movements? Burros will migrate up to 250 miles in pursuit of food and water sources through the seasons. These burros cannot do that. This whole plan is riddled with hypocrisy.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m curious is this technology can differentiate a burro standing still from a deer or elk standing still, or even a horse foal? Will this technology be used by flying over and scanning from helicopters? I think everyone can agree nobody knows how many wild burros or horses are still left in the wild so if this is a non-invasive way to get a grip on the numbers it might be a good thing, but if choppers are terrorizing all the wildlife (and perhaps even livestock) that can’t be a good thing, especially in winter. I agree with RT, though, that as usual any value in scientific studies is being destroyed by removing some or all the animals being studied, which shifts the entire dynamic of those being studied, so why invest the time/money? It’s likely the results will show only how a few burros respond to massive interventions. It’s an open question if this is even useful information.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It depends on the distance and on whether the BLM wants to see more burros/horses than there actually are on range. This “cutting edge” is nothing but a FLIR camera, like those used by police at night. Here is an approximation of the resolution of the images:

      If taken from a sufficiently long distance there is no effective way to tell.

      Besides, it seems to me BLM is just selling image, an image that it is complying with NAS recommendations, and I bet you something that, whatever the result of the study, if it is not conducive to more wild horse and burro round ups it will be tucked in drawer never to see the light. BLM management decisions are always already taken way before any consideration to science is made. It is all mummery and operetta.


      • Thanks Daniel, for posting these photos. But are we to understand the photos will be taken from people on foot? I can’t imagine they would find many that way, or that they wouldn’t scatter when found.


      • You’re welcome. The count will be likely made from a chopper or an airplane, otherwise it is unfeasible to carry out. So therefore, expect them to count as wild equine something that is not. And then add that they will not scan the +200 million acres of public lands but they will do just a few and then use some wacky formula to extrapolate the whole number.

        I don’t know how many they will claim there are but I can tell you something… that no matter what they will find a way to make it match their current outlandish estimations and science-fiction reproductive rates.


      • Daniel, thanks again. I suspected they would have to fly over, and since as the article mentions, burros are not so easily scattered, it seems very likely the heat signature from overhead would not show long ears, only 300 lb. bodies, which could be a lot of other species. Agreed on use of modeling to extrapolate numbers, it seems a pretty primitive tool. See the work of Bob Bauer regarding how the resulting numbers only come close to matching what others find on the ground if doubled at every stage of calculation.

        We need more GOOD science regarding wild horse and burro management, and we do need more accurate inventories. How to humanely achieve them is something we should all be trying to figure out.


  4. Well – if the US Geological Survey is doing a FIVE YEAR research – AFTER the BLM’s rounding them up?????? Whats the point. And if the BLM is really using “Cutting Edge Technology” – after all these years – to remove 2/3 of these burros from the range – again – whats the point?
    Putting BLM and cutting edge technology in the same sentence is a little scary!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Tar Sands??? They are going to be allowed to destroy public land for tar sand removal? Since oil is now so cheap and we have all these reserves – what the heck is the point in removing tar sands here? This makes even less sense than the regular drillling & fracking mess!


  5. OMG. 40+years into it, and they’re just now noticing they don’t know anything??

    I wonder if they’ll notice burros aren’t – surprise! – ponies or teeny horses. I wonder if they’ll find out burros don’t have the same forage requirements as horses, or that they’re not dependent on the family band like horses. Or reproduce like … Horses.

    It’s a wee bit disgusting this sudden interest in monitoring an animal they’ve had the power over for so long yet understood so little. But how ’bout puttin’ all this fabulous new interest into burro research BEFORE the roundup, hmmm?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. THIS is the kind of study that needs to be done and it needs to done in the field, in the natural environment, as do all Wildlife studies

    Critically Endangered
    DECEMBER 4, 2007

    In July 2000, Patricia Moehlman, Chairwoman of the Species Survival Commission and Equid Specialist for the World Conservation Union appealed to BLM to initiate more studies of our American wild asses in efforts to obtain relevant information for critically endangered asses throughout the world.

    However, the BLM had just released their “Strategy to Achieve and Manage Wild Burros at Appropriate Management Levels” in June of 2000, which authorized wild burro populations to be slashed nationally by at least 66%, despite their “federally protected status” – Dr. Moehlmans appeal for help was ignored. (1)

    While studies on wild asses stated their reproduction rate was
    only 4% IN GOOD YEARS,
    the BLM has applied their “wild horse reproduction rate” of 20% per year (also in serious question) to wild burros as well.

    Endangered Wild Equids
    Patricia D. Moehlman
    Scientific American 292, 86 – 93 (2005)


  7. Oh good God. I’ll never forget that video of someone (I’m being polite, I’d have many more choice words for him to be sure) kicking and abusing a burro. That’s their idea of managing.


  8. Why not study the bones of already dead burros—get their DNA and hypothesize on how far they migrated—maybe set up a diorama or a cliff painting. Make it into a contest—the winner can go into the empty desert, and BLM will show wild burro movies…how it “used to be” before we removed them all. Ya can’t fix STUPID.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So, did I decipher this correctly? A piece of land nearly 100,000+ acres can only sustain 60 wild burros???

    While this “study” will give the BLM “better management tools,” it won’t stop them from reducing the number of burros by approximately 2/3 now, before the study has even commenced. Sounds like they’re putting the cart before the horse – or I should say burro.

    Why bother doing the study when just about all the wild burros will be eradicated from the area, and there won’t be any left to study.

    I’m once again shaking my head.


    • I think one of those BLM stellar thinking heads in DC came up with the strategy of “selling image” that they are doing “science” and following NAS recommendations, while actually doing just the contrary, that is, doing thigs they way they always did. There is an italian word for that… gatopardism.


      • Aha, I had to look up the definition…. {“Gatopardism” in short, is the act of changing something drastically so that in the end, nothing really changes and all remains the same.} Sounds about right, at least in the way the BLM functions…. but the wild horses and burros are the losers (loss of land, freedom, and life) so to them it doesn’t remain the same.


      • Yes, that’s more or less the concept (making some minor cosmetic changes so that everything stays the same, deceiving the public opinion). Quite fitting for BLM, taking into account that the concept came from a novel telling the rise of the Sicilian mafia and the power structures that underpin it.


      • Looked this up, too, curious about the “cat” part. Gattopardo evidently means Leopard, so in this context we can understand it to mean the Leopard can’t change its spots, or that maybe it can change its spots but still remains a Leopard, not coincidentally an apex predator.


  10. To learn about the burros, the researchers need to study them in the field not destroy the herd by roundup. The BLM plans to leave 60 burros in the Sinbad HMA. Experts in equine population genetics know that a genetically viable herd requires 100 to 150. If you care, comment on the BLM’s Environmental Assessment by January 11. Comments are accepted by email:


    • In that same vein, Charlotte…they do genetic diversity studies on wild horse herds by taking samples from horses captured in roundups – horses that are almost never released.
      What’s the point?


      • Theres really not much point in anything this agency does! Treating mares with contraceptive vaccine & not always turning them back out???? I’m betting their studies on “genetic diversity” go right in the round file!

        Liked by 1 person

      • So if we have 100,000 acres, and 60 burros at an average of say 350 lbs. each, that means each burro requires only .35 AUM (animal unit month) of forage. AUMS are generally based on a 1,000 lb. animal being 1 AUM.

        A burro weighing 350 lbs. needs just 35% that of an animal weighing 1,000 lbs. If you figure that 1,000 lb. animal needs 30 lbs. of forage per day, that means a burro needs only 10.5 lbs. per day.

        So 60 burros would need about the weight of one good sized small square bale of hay per day TOTAL, foraged from 100,000 acres.

        Here’s a good basic explanation of calculating AUMs:$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex1201


      • Whoops, I see I made a miscalculation below (fat fingers!) 60 burros needing 10 lbs. per day (roughly) = 600 lbs. total, not 60. So if you figure a square bale at 50 lbs. of hay, you’d need 30 bales a day worth of forage over 100,000 acres.

        30 bales is about one pickup load.


    • Seriously – how many of us comment with “technical or scientific” information? Does this mean that our “emotional” comments are just tossed immediately? AND didnt they just have a roundup of Sulphur wild horses a few months ago? Isnt that where that beautiful stallion was captured & died during gelding!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Who’s the “they” that do samples of this kind? Each herd’s sustainable point is closely related to its environment. So taking them out of the wild isn’t a valid baseline for study.


  11. “They” are certainly in a hurry to clear the Public Lands of any remaining Federally Protected Wild Horses & Burros…Symbols of American Freedom…almost as though there is a deadline of some sort.

    The Terrible Truth about The Trans Pacific Partners Agreement
    would surrender control of 544 MILLION ACRES OF PUBLIC LAND- a quarter of the entire U.S. land area – to international authorities

    Trans-Pacific Partnership to be signed in February 2016 in New Zealand
    The leaders of all 12 countries (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States) took part in the gathering, held on the sidelines of the 23rd APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Manila

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Please, Please be responsible and thoughtful with your entrusted stewardship of our environment and precious Wildlife!!
    We will be watching.


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