Wild Burros

BLM Completes Sinbad Wild Burro Roundup

By STEVE CHRISTENSEN as published on the Sun Advocate

“The BLM and the news article, below, failed to include the tragic details of the BLM fiasco that resulted from implementing radio collar research on wild horses in Nevada in the 1980s In the 1980s similar so-called “research” was done on wild horses with devastating results including collars being embedded into the wild horses’ flesh and some ultimate deaths caused by this collaring procedure. Collars were first fitted in the fall of 1986, and problems were not discovered until the spring of 1987. In some cases, the horse grew into the collar material, so that the collar became embedded in the animal’s neck. In other cases, the collar abraded the skin under the neck where the radio unit was attached, causing an open sore that subsequently became infected. Loose collars rode up on the animals’ necks and over their foreheads, causing sores on the ears. “The wounds caused by tight collars were unquestionably grim in appearance.” One 25-year-old mare died at Stone Cabin after being darted to treat a tight collar. A stallion died when it fell off a cliff after being darted to “adjust” its “research” collar. Other animals with collars were found dead. One had a collar embedded in its neck. Another animal was found dead 12 days after she had been darted but failed to succumb. The research team discovered an additional 21 collared horses that were found dead before August 1988. The summary report states, ‘There is no doubt that some of the collared animals suffered large and painful wounds.’

Collaring wild horses and burros is dangerous and inhumane treatment. Any knowledgeable equine owner or manager knows to never leave a halter even on a domestic horse or burro in a controlled environment, let alone a wild horse or wild burro. Cruelty to animals, also called animal abuse or animal neglect, is the intentional infliction by humans of suffering or harm upon any non-human animal, for purposes other than self-defense or survival.” ~ Grandma Gregg

“The Abuse and Inhumane treatment is staggering…”

The Sinbad Burro roundup is over. In all, 236 burros were captured and transported to Axtell where they were sorted and DNA samples taken.

BLM captured Wild Burros at Palomino Valley ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

BLM captured Wild Burros at Palomino Valley ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Then 103 were returned to the desert, half jacks (male) and half jennies (female). Burros of all ages were returned. The other 133 burros will be available for adoption at the Axtell facility. An adoption application can be picked up at the Price Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office.

BLM Range Specialist Michael Tweddell estimates there were about 20 burros that were not caught. That will put the total herd left in the San Rafael area at about 120 animals.

Radio collars were installed on 30 jennies. That will allow them to be followed and monitored to better understand habits and movement.

Two methods were used to trap the burros. About 125 were trapped using a baited corral. Grain and water were placed in the corral and the animals could come and go for five days. At the end of five days the gates closed automatically. Those burros were loaded in a truck and the bait was again set.

About 110 were caught using helicopters, which herded the burros into a corral. It was necessary to rope some of the more obstinate animals. Tweddell explained that burros, unlike horses, will settle down when corralled. They are much easier to deal with than horses.

DNA will be compared to samples taken in the 1990s. That will tell management people about things such as in-breeding.

Burros have been around a long time, but they aren’t indigenous to North America. Columbus may have brought the first donkeys (just another name for burro) here in the late 15th century on his second trip to the New World. The Spanish Conquistadors used donkeys extensively in the 16th century as they explored the American West.

Later burros were used by miners who were looking for uranium and minerals that would make them rich. It didn’t. The Sinbad burros are probably descendants of donkeys brought to the area by those miners in the 1920s.

Burros adapted to the desert existence and flourished. There are now thousands of wild burros roaming the American West in six states. Besides Utah, they can be found in Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Oregon, and California.

The herds are increasing at an alarming rate. They are overrunning their own territory.

They are remarkably adapted to such a harsh environment. They are said to be able to tolerate water loss of as much as 30 percent of their body weight and can replenish it in only five minutes of drinking. Humans require medical attention if they lose as little as 10 percent of their body weight rehydration can take more than a day of intermittent drinking to recover.

Nevertheless, water still determines where burros live.

Ranchers don’t necessarily like burros. Burros eat the same thing cows eat. Burros also don’t respect the water trucked in for cows. It’s just drinking water to them. So, in reality, ranchers are helping burros by providing a source of water. Some ranchers grit their teeth when they say that.

Burros and wild horses are protected under The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.Basically the law says burros and horses are part of the history of the west and are protected.

Harsh penalties, including prison sentences, await people who violate the law.

Categories: Wild Burros

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17 replies »

  1. It has been proven for years that the BLM does not care about the horses and burros. They have not stopped doing whatever they want. What would it take to stop them? They’re part of the government and just like the government they do what they want, how they want. Now they are going to round up thousands of horses to appease ranchers, gas/oil companies, foreign interests,etc. and and try to put on the face that its for a good reason? Horse advocates always use documented evidence, legal steps to try and stop them but the BLM doesn’t play by the same rules.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What the BLM does is inhumane and they’ve collared equines irresponsibly before. What did they learn? Was it worth the deaths? I really loathe their story about Columbus bringing all the donkeys that went wild. They have no idea and do not want any idea of the truth. As for the ranchers – they’re a lost cause just looking out for profits and complaining about not having enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 《”That will tell management people about things such as in-breeding”》

    In addition to perpetuate the myths of exploding population and omitting the murderous effects of collaring, the article is poorly written, even for a local rag.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Burros do deserve to be researched but in a way that respects and appreciates them in the wild and that is the last thing BLM wants or will do. Simply spending time in the wild with them is what is really needed but also in this day and age wildlife cams and drones and GoPro cameras can all be tools to learn about them but there is nothing that can beat just spending time with them. That is how all good wild animal research is done – Jane Goodall and Diane Fossey are two great examples of intelligent and respectful wild animal research but there are many more.

    Collars on wild horses proved to be very deadly in past experiments and I can only assume it will be the same for these burros. It is my understanding that BLM was granted “x” amount of money for so-called “research” and as with most govt. agencies … if they don’t use it then they lose it for that fiscal year and future years and so money was given to someone (university?) to do so-called research and BLM said okey dokey … and now burros will suffer and besides they just captured/removed most of that herd (now down to about 120 total burros – i.e. genetically doomed) making any research findings even more useless.


    • Ditto!! The technology exists and it is easily doable. Further, there are apps that record the precise GPS coordinates where the burros / horses are found in real time, contrary to outdated radio collars which depend on triangulation and are enormously inaccurate. An to prove that here is a demonstration:

      If they go for radio collars is because:

      a) It is a handout of public money to wranglers and staff that will set up the corrals and collar the burros / horses, and record the radio signals periodically, and that otherwise will have to find a real job. What I call the wild horse payola.

      b) They know many will die so it acts a way to “soft kill” them without the controversy of directly shooting them or sending them for slaughter.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re right Daniel. There’s a little $omthing in it for everyone in capture and removal operations…everyone except the Burros and the American People

        58–GPS radio collars for wild horses and burros

        Notice Type:
        Award Notice
        Contract Award Date:
        January 15, 2016
        Contract Award Number:
        Contract Award Dollar Amount:
        Contractor Awarded DUNS:
        Contractor Awardee:
        115 PONY DR
        L3Y 7B5
        Added: Mar 16, 2016 10:56 am
        IGF::OT::IGF – GPS radio collars for wild horses and burros
        Contracting Office Address:
        PO BOX 25046
        Point of Contact(s):
        Petway, Vann


  5. As for the article’s population increase statement [“The herds are increasing at an alarming rate. They are overrunning their own territory.”], I did a little quick math and at the average population increase of 3% annually for burros (what our recent research showed for Twin Peaks burros after factoring in adult and foal mortality) it would take TEN years for an original herd of 100 burros to become a herd of 134 burros. That doesn’t seem like an “alarming rate” to me and with less than a few thousand wild burros left on their legally designated lands in the United States, they are certainly not “overrunning” their territory!


  6. This is like “a razor blade in monkey’s hands”
    We need REAL Research, done by REAL Wildlife Biologists and it needs to be done in the field.
    For starters…NONE of these Federally Protected Wild Burros should have been captured or removed from their Legal Herd Management Area.

    BLM Advisory Board meeting Sept 9-11, 2013
    Dr. Lori Eggert, University of Missouri – Genetic Diversity

    Genetic diversity of burro populations well below what you would see in healthy populations.

    12 burro HMAs with populations between 2 and 49 animals.

    Burro populations do need priority for genetic management.

    Maintenance of genetic diversity over time is going to require higher population size than even the largest HMA now has.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. There is much more evidence available now which indicates ALL Equines originated on the North American continent…but that is for yet another discussion.
    The important fact is that they fit so beautifully into the desert ecosystem.

    New perspectives on wild burro ecology
    Erick Lundgren
    In brief:

    Wild introduced burros dig wells of more than a meter deep to reach subterranean water in the Sonoran desert.

    Several species use these wells for drinking water

    This behavior has never been described in the literature, likely due to prevailing negative attitudes towards introduced species

    My research on the ecology of burros will help elucidate and shine a more objective light on this animal

    Four years ago I was camping on a beautiful river in the Sonoran desert of Arizona. This river winds through a brutally gorgeous landscape that looks like melted wax; old multicolored volcanic debris, steep canyons, saguaros and cottonwoods. As a field biologist, I was becoming interested in how ecologists understand and describe invasive species. I was beginning to realize that to demonize a species because it doesn’t belong may prevent us from seeing what it actually does. It was on this trip that I began seeing, after years of working and camping on this river without noticing, these strange features: wells.

    Three years later, I have documented the origin of these wells, and confirmed my suspicions: burros dig wells. Burro well-digging has never been described in the scientific literature. Burros are introduced species that are commonly described by the scientific community as “scourges”. Nearly all primary scientific effect-studies about them focus on how burros overgraze and outcompete native species. Yet these studies have failed to yield generalizable understandings because of weak methodologies and their failure to consider the ecological context of apex predator control. This is the essentialist paradigm that this well-digging phenomena forcefully brings into question.

    I am now doing my PhD research on this phenomena, which connects to a growing body of scientific thought that is shifting our paradigms about introduced/invasive species. As this paradigm changes conservation biology may transition from a field focused in many ways on ‘belonging’ and ‘nativity’ to one focused on process and ecological context.

    From my preliminary data, it appears that burros are significantly increasing water access across the desert. I have found sites that are very arid, with limited and seasonal surface water, where burro-wells maintain access to subterranean water throughout the year. Furthermore, in certain contexts, these burro-wells appear to function as vegetation nurseries; significantly more cottonwood and willow seedlings germinated in abandoned burro-wells than in adjacent riverbank zones.

    With a small grant from ASU I was able to buy several trail cameras and have documented 13 species using these wells, including bighorn sheep, and I am surely missing many smaller bodied species. In fact, javelina and cattle appear to use these wells at a greater frequency than even burros.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. The statement “burros are not indigenous” to North America is highly arguable. Tell this to all the burro ancestors who originated and lived for millions of years in North America and gave rise to the burros! Also all the spin about overpopulation and competing is such a display of ignorance and unfairness! And the population that remains is not even viable. This is so disgusting!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. So glad to see the intelligent and fair-minded work being done by Erick Lundgren! This is what we need more of. See Ch. II on wild horse and burro ecology of my updated book The Wild Horse Conspiracy, available through amazon or on my website by the same name.

    Liked by 2 people

    • THANK YOU Craig. We have to keep that in front of the Public that is so often mislead by the false data that is continually being propagated.
      Besides…it is a “moot” point. Our Wild Horses & Burros are Federally Protected because they are so cherished by the American People.
      The “invasive species” argument is used to divert the dialog from the REAL issue, which is the fact that they are fast disappearing from Public Lands.

      Liked by 1 person

    This document states very clearly “the management of wild horse and burro herds is
    not compatible within those portions of commercial tar sands lease areas” and
    might be impacted by the following activities:

    (1) undergoing active development

    (2) in preparation for a future development

    (3) undergoing reclamation after development

    (4) occupied by long-term surface
    facilities, such as office buildings,
    laboratories, retorts, and parking lots. Animals would likely be displaced from the areas of commercial
    development, and, depending on the conditions in the individual HMA, it might
    be necessary to reduce herd numbers to match forage availability on the undisturbed portion(s) of the HMA

    If horses emigrate out of HMA boundaries because of the disturbance within the
    HMA, they could be removed via the capture and adoption program.”

    Click to access OSTS_Chapter_3.pdf

    Click to access OSTSfinal.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I can understand why BLM wants to study the horses movements. One the face it sounds reasonable. But as has been pointed out the collars in this case are a bad idea.

    Isn’t there a radio collar thing that can be inserted under the skin like microchipping? Instead of microchip…it would send out the same data that the collar would? I know it sounds invasive but I’d think it would be less dangerous. Collars obviously cause all kinds of problems.

    And we know domesticate horses will find every possible to hang himself from here to eternity. If there’s a way a horse to hurt himself you can be certain the horse will find it. I’d think a wild horse would find exceptional ways to hurt himself from a collar around his neck that he’s totally unfamiliar with. Microchip sounds less dangerous.


  12. Microchips are passive emitters so you can’t use them to track anything since the target needs to be radiated. However, they can study their movement patterns using drones and pure field observation, if BLM wanted.

    Liked by 1 person

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