Horse News

Multiple Wild Burros Die After BLM Abusive Capture

Story by Robert Stevens as published on the Sanpete Messenger

“They were perfectly healthy on their rightful, healthy range but once captured, abused and mismanaged by the out of control BLM they contracted a mysterious and rare illness that caused their deaths.  Stranger than fiction and very convenient.  This is exactly what Grandma Gregg was addressing in her telling OpEd I GUESS IF YOU ARE GOING TO MURDER THEM ALL – THEN KILLING A FEW DOZEN WILD BURROS ALONG THE WAY MEANS NOTHING?” ~ R.T.

Dead wild burros in Axtell Utah contracted rare virus

AXTELL—The Bureau of Land Management says 25 wild burros that died in an off-range corral in Axtell appear to have contracted a rare virus.

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

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

The deaths occurred after 236 wild burros were gathered last April and May from the Sinbad Herd Management Area, which is about 30 miles west of Green River, and brought to Axtell.

“Soon after being captured and held in captivity, an increased mortality began to occur from unknown causes,” a BLM report says.  “By the end of June, a total of about 25 animals had died from a variety of causes. ”

After exhaustive work, the Utah State Animal Diagnostic Lab and Utah State veterinarian determined that the deaths were related to a chronic viral pneumonia characterized by pulmonary fibrosis (a lung disease that can result in lung scarring, interfering with an animal’s ability to breathe), the BLM report says.

The BLM suspected a viral cause of mortality in the animals, the report says, but tests for the common equine herpes virus Types 1 and 4 were negative, as was testing for equine influenza.

However, the BLM report said, an uncommon Asinine herpes virus has been tentatively identified. Additional tests are being done to try to identify the specific Asinine herpes virus involved.

“We are still waiting on some DNA testing results,” Gus Warr, BLM-Utah’s wild horse and burro program manager, said.

No deaths have occurred in the Sinbad burros since early July, and all appear to be healthy.

According to Warr, in coordination with the Utah State veterinarian, the Axtell facility has been cleared for adoption and shipping of healthy burros.

32 replies »

  1. Oh bullhockey.. The BLM is full of it. Abuse and crappy hay is not likely the cause of death. Running them into the ground.. A list of all other abuses that you could think of. Every time the BLM opens its mouth it many died of a gunshot wound..??? That I would more likely believe.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If helicopters were used, it is well known that in drought periods some pathogenic viruses which live in the soil are disturbed and inhaled by equids, resulting in respiratory and other diseases. Pigeon Fever is one I have first hand experience with, so there may be a link to the roundup practices and route and the resulting disease, of course compounded by maximum stress.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The BLM planned to capture and remove about 130 wild burros (AML of 50 to 70) but they captured and removed 236 wild burros. Of the burros captured, 30 were to be fitted with radio collars and returned back to the range. It appears that they only left the 30 collared burros (?) … but the BLM website says they removed 236 and shows nothing about returning ANY back to the HMA – what’s up with that?

    And even if they did return 30 burros, that is a non-viable gene pool and will lead to a genetic bottleneck, birth defects in future offspring,and eventual annihilation of this herd… just the way BLM wants it and just the way BLM planned.

    The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) warned in its 2013 report that “removing burros permanently from the range could jeopardize the genetic health of the total population.” The NAS investigation also concluded that the BLM “may need to assess whether the AMLs [Allowable Management Levels] set for burros can sustain a genetically healthy total population.” BLM would rather get rid of them all.

    Management for extinction.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. 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. Suggest managing metapopulation -considering population as a whole and outside intervention required if populations maintained at current AMLs.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. And why does the BLM want all these Sinbad wild burros gone?

    1) Welfare ranching: about 6,400 AUM’s are given to the private/corporate domestic livestock on the Sinbad HMA.
    2) The Richfield tar sands: (Excerpts)
    TABLE 3.7.3-2 Wild Horse Herd Management Areas within the Oil Shale and Tar Sands Study Area (page 3-167) Wild Horse and Burro Herd Management Areas. As discussed in Section 3.1.1, the STSAs coincide with a number of designated Wild Horse and Wild Burro HMAs. Specifically, the following HMAs overlie the STSAs: the Muddy Creek, Sinbad, and Range Creek Wild Horse HMAs and the SINBAD WILD BURRO HMA in the Price Field Office; the Canyon Lands Wild Burro HMA in the Richfield Field Office; and the Hill Creek Wild Horse HMA in the Vernal Field Office. At least some portion of each of these 8 HMAs coincides with lands proposed to be available for application for leasing under the tar sands alternatives.
    Information can be found at these links:

    Click to access UT33-RichfieldFinalPlan.pdf


    Click to access OSTSfinal.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sinbad Wild Burros
    Follow the timeline

    Wild horses & burros being removed for Richfield Tar Sands plan

    “The document goes so far as to say, ‘the management of wild horse and burro herds is not compatible within those portions of commercial tar sands lease areas.’”
    by Grandma Gregg
    Muddy Creek
    Range Creek


    “The Sinbad HMA is within the Oil Shale and Tar Sands Study Area EIS. However, there are no current leases, active development, preparation of or reclamation of active developments in the Sinbad HMA.”

    Notice of Intent To Prepare a Master Leasing Plan, Amend the Resource Management Plans for the Price and Richfield Field Offices, and Prepare an Associated Environmental Assessment, Utah


    The Bureau of Land Management issued a notice of intent on Tuesday May 17,2016 to prepare a Master Leasing Plan (MLP) for over 500,000 acres of the San Rafael desert in Southern Utah. The plan aims to consider oil and gas leasing and post-leasing development, as well as areas to be protected.

    The planning area, located in Emery and Wayne counties, will provide additional planning and analysis prior to any new oil and gas drilling. The MLP will allow the BLM to resolve long-standing lease protests as well as evaluate suspended leases. The process will also evaluate potential developments in the area and identify potential resource conflicts and environmental concerns. It will also allow the BLM to develop strategies for oil and gas mitigation and consider new conditions, such as no surface occupancy or prohibiting leases in certain areas. This landscape-level planning tool will help ensure balanced management between interests related to recreation, conservation, and industry in the San Rafael Desert. The MLP processes in places like Tres Rios, Moab and more are already showing how stakeholder collaboration can lead to positive land planning outcomes.

    In addition to other issues that might be identified during scoping, through the San Rafael Desert MLP the BLM intends to:
    Resolve long-standing protests on lease parcels that have been sold, but not issued in the planning area;
    Determine whether to modify or lift lease suspensions that have been in place pending further analysis addressing lands with wilderness characteristics;
    Evaluate potential oil and gas development scenarios;

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The BLM is out of control. They only care about money. So many wild mustangs are ending up in Canada and Mexico to be slautered. Where is the justice for these horses and burros

    Liked by 1 person

      • Honestly – someone who is disappointed to see the true horrific treatment that we humans put animals thru – disappointed that it wasn’t a film showing pretend scary blood & guts? Cant say what I feel about that. BUT – think about this – one half of that audience STAYED & watched! Frankly – those are the people that matter. Its the ones who “just cant watch what happens to animals because it bothers them” who close their eyes & ignore the whole issue. Thats how these factory farms & the wild horse roundups and HORSE SLAUGHTER continue to exist.


  8. OMFG. They have known about this Asinine Herpes (what a name crazy right?) since 2008 and it is treatable!!!!!> Format: AbstractSend to
    J Vet Diagn Invest. 2008 Nov;20(6):820-3.
    Herpesvirus-associated neurological disease in a donkey.
    Vengust M1, Wen X, Bienzle D.
    Author information
    A 4-year-old donkey was evaluated for progressive neurological abnormalities consisting of depression, stupor, weakness, and recumbency. Diagnostic evaluation for viral involvement identified an asinine herpesvirus in DNA extracted from deep pharyngeal swabs. Specific primers were designed based on comparison with equine herpesviral DNA polymerase sequences and yielded an 875-base pair product from the donkey. This sequence had complete identity with short sequences of asinine herpesvirus previously identified in donkeys with interstitial pneumonia. Amino acid analysis of the entire sequence indicated high similarity with Equid herpesvirus 7 (91%), Zebra herpesvirus 1 (90%), and Equid herpesvirus 2 (89%). With supportive treatment and physical therapy, the donkey gradually recovered over 5 days of hospitalization and returned to normal function. The current case illustrates the potential of a novel asinine herpesvirus to induce neurological disease in donkeys and provides a large viral sequence allowing confident assignment of this virus to the subfamily Gammaherpesvirinae.
    PMID: 18987238


  9. A more common cause of death for wild horses & burros that have been stampeded by helicopter is muscular myopathy (white muscle disease). The muscles die, the kidneys die. BLM does not test for this because they prefer to say the rounded up equines die of “natural causes.” We should get a look at the autopsy reports & see how they tested for elevated levels of lactic acid, potassium etc. which are the indicators. Bottom line: Never but never round up burros by helicopter. Never but never remove them at all for a “field study,” which to be valid must be done in the field using remote cameras or people trained to observe them. Never but never use radio collars — outdate, dangerous technology.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good points, all. Since the collars cost over $2,000 each, why not designate some of those funds for necropsies, and publication of results. We are still waiting for an official necropsy report on over 100 mares who died at Scott City KS though the federal vet was on site within two days of notification, conduction necropsies and euthanizing others deemed unable to survive. Survive WHAT exactly has never been divulged or explained other than in hypothetical terms.


      • Click to access Sinbad-Wild-Burro-Gather-PDF.pdf

        Sinbad Wild Burro Capture – day#1
        Photots & report.

        “Some of the burros may have “split ears” from locals going out and lassoing them.” So BLM knows about the locals going out on the HMA and lassoing our wild burros and have any arrests been made? Of course not; even though any harassment of these burros is a federal crime.

        Speaking of harassment and possible complications for the many deaths of these wild burros, it is my understanding that the neck of the burro is FAR different than the neck of cattle. Donkeys have long necks compared to cattle. The esophagus of a steer is located higher and deeper in the muscles of their necks, which are shorter than that of a donkey. A donkey’s esophagus can be crushed by a rope because of its placement and exposure. Their tracheas (windpipes) are exposed, not buried deeply in the neck structure as are cows, so they are crushed and they suffocate. They can’t eat for days because their throats are swollen.


  10. The BLM both at Arizona state level and national is on the warpath to cripple the few remaining wild burro populations in the U.S. These are struggling to survive and to bring their numbers to viable levels, but conniving ignoble often salary-paid people are trying to thwart them at every turn, in every place. This is, of course, all the opposite of what should be happening according to the true intent and spirit and meaning of the WFHBA!!!! The wild burro is maintaining the true vigor of a critically endangered species in the place of its truer origin — North America. See my book, Chapter I and other places The Wild Horse Conspiracy where I give the proofs:


  11. Oh, yes, and be sure to pay careful attention to the world event film produced by Leonardo DiCaprio entitled Before the Flood. If this doesn’t wake humanity up and cause them to fly right, what will???


  12. Our wild burros are at a number that the IUCN would deem to be either endangered or critically endangered depending on actual count. My geeling is that they are critically endangered. The IUCN also factors in things like fractured environment which clearly tips the scale toward critically endangered. As their numbers drop and genetic variability is further constricted, the burros will be subject to an inability to fight off illness. The DAD-IS (Domestic Animal Diversity Information System) tracts livestock diversity. Animals bred for traits lose diversity thus exposing them to a potential wipeout by an introduced pathogen. (for example the great potato famine illustrates this in plant form) The wild herds are critical to preserving true genetic variability. They could well be needed in the future should the wild horse and burro’s domestic counterparts be hit with such a devastating illness.

    As for roping burros, they do often have damage done to their throats. Their ears have chils taken out of them that are unmistakable and differenys from the bites they give each other. It certainly does cause injury and even death. If they survive, gaining their trust is much harder now that they associate humans with predator in a meaningful way.

    Read this section, it starts on pg 143. There are many scientific references here that show wild burros in the US will be inbred out of existence.


  13. Thank you very much, Miss Abby. The link certainly points to BLM’s preferred “MANAGEMENT FOR EXTINCTION” that we hear so often.

    One factor that is rarely ever discussed is that most of the HMAs are fenced and cross-fenced (for livestock) within the HMAs, therefore, if the horses or burros cannot intermingle then the total population of the HMA is almost irrelevant to the true genetic gene pool.

    Another factor that is rarely ever mentioned is the fact that the gene pool that Dr. Cothran bases his research on is almost always long gone due to BLM removals and therefore although his research is greatly appreciated and is vital, it is almost moot by the time the results are provided. Example, if the gene pool samples are of a wild herd of 200 animals and they capture and remove half of them then half (give/take – many miscellaneous factors would come into place) of that original gene pool is therefore gone and the subsequent surviving wild gene pool is by far different than his results which could in actuality lead to a much lower genetic variability/health of the remaining 100 animals.

    Here are a few things in that link that I found to be VERY important:
    “It was originally thought that an effective population size of at least 50 was necessary to avoid short-term inbreeding depression, but empirical work suggests that if maintenance of fitness is important, effective population sizes much larger than 50 are necessary. Theoretical studies suggest that the figure could be closer to 5,000 for several reasons.
    However, they agreed with previous suggestions that multiple populations totaling thousands, rather than hundreds, of individuals will probably be necessary for long-term viability of species.
    However, this population exists in many smaller, fragmented units. Only a small fraction of the HMAs or HMA complexes contain more than 1,000 horses, so no single HMA or complex could be considered to have an MVP size for the long term, although the analyses cited above suggest that horse populations on HMAs or HMA complexes that are larger than 1,000 do have a greater than 50-percent probability of survival for 100 years.
    In contrast with horses, the total population of free-ranging burros is estimated at only about 5,000 and is therefore at what scientists would consider an MVP size. These animals exist in fragmented units, each of which has a population size well below the MVP size.”


    • Genetic Diversity in Free-Ranging Horse and Burro Populations

      In the late 1970s, when the National Research Council Committee on Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros reviewed the state of the science, nothing was known about the genetics of free-ranging equids. The committee’s 1980 report found that “no information exists about these populations concerning … the amount of genetic variation within populations, the amount of genetic differentiation between populations, and the pattern of genetic relatedness (‘phylogeny’) of the wild populations and the domestic breeds” (NRC, 1980, p. 93). Furthermore, no information on the amount of genetic variation within or between breeds of domestic equids existed (NRC, 1980). Therefore, that committee recommended that genetic studies be conducted to assess the genetic health of the herds. The lack of information regarding the ancestry and lineages of free-ranging equids was also identified as a concern.

      It was originally thought that an effective population size of at least 50 was necessary to avoid short-term inbreeding depression, but empirical work suggests that if maintenance of fitness is important, effective population sizes much larger than 50 are necessary. Theoretical studies suggest that the figure could be closer to 5,000 for several reasons. First, new genetic variation from mutations is added to a population more slowly than originally thought (Lande, 1995). Mutations with large effects tend to be detrimental and are removed from the population by natural selection, so the overall mutation rate does not accurately predict the infusion of new genetic variation. Second, the effects of inbreeding depression are likely to be more severe in stressful environments (Jiménez et al., 1994; Pray et al., 1994). Finally, slightly deleterious mutations may accumulate in smaller populations and lead to a decline in fitness (Lynch and Gabriel, 1990; Charlesworth et al., 1993; Lande, 1994).

      related concern is whether there is a general rule that would help managers to decide how large a population needs to be to remain genetically and demographically viable in the long term (Flather et al., 2011a,b). Flather et al. (2011b) argued that a general rule of thumb is not scientifically defensible given the variation among species, their evolutionary history, the habitats that they occupy, and the threats to their survival. However, they agreed with previous suggestions that multiple populations totaling thousands, rather than hundreds, of individuals will probably be necessary for long-term viability of species.

      At the time of the committee’s study, the total population of horses on BLM land exceeded 31,000. When that population is considered as a whole, concerns regarding minimum viable population (MVP) size are not important. However, this population exists in many smaller, fragmented units. Only a small fraction of the HMAs or HMA complexes contain more than 1,000 horses, so no single HMA or complex could be considered to have an MVP size for the long term, although the analyses cited above suggest that horse populations on HMAs or HMA complexes that are larger than 1,000 do have a greater than 50-percent probability of survival for 100 years. In addition, it does not appear to be realistic to attempt to manage each HMA or HMA complex with a goal of a minimum of 5,000 animals. Therefore, management of the HMAs as a metapopulation, in the form of natural and assisted movement of animals between HMAs, will be necessary for long-term persistence of the horses at the HMA or HMA-complex level. Movement of animals will need to be guided by a number of genetic, demographic, behavioral, and logistical factors, discussed later in this chapter.


  14. Thank you Grandma Gregg. It is alarming that ANY wild burros are targeted for PZP treatments either. FIrstly, they have not studied the affect of PZP on burros. Secondly, burros are polyester ousted meaning they come into heat throughout the year. And, finally, they are socially structured differently from horses. “Herds” are based on resources. These herds are generally jennies who have offspring that stay with them for multiple years. The units are usually small in number. However, if resources are ample the herds are much larger. Seeing multiple members in a burro herd is a good indicator that they have ample resources. Jacks will generally be with jennies if they are young offspring or the jenny is receptive to mating. As a rule jacks will form bachelor herds if resources are good. If not they will stand in guard of their territories.

    Burros are not small horses with long ears. Yes, they are from the same family but they are not the same species. Given their clear peril at the hands of the BLM, we really need to push to get them status as an endangered species. The BLM needs to have the oversize of a new agency set up to protect our wild horses, burros, AND the environmental health of our public lands.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Genetic Diversity in Free-Ranging Horse and Burro Populations

    Genetic Diversity in Free-Ranging Burros

    Far less research has been conducted on genetic diversity in free-ranging donkeys and burros than in horses.

    Genetic Diversity in Burros Managed by the Bureau of Land Management
    Genetic studies of 12 burro HMAs have been conducted by Cothran and compared with his previous studies of domestic burro populations. The loci used for burros include nine of the 12 used for the free-ranging horse studies.

    All burro HMAs on which genetic data were obtained had diversity measures below 0.66, the value used for horse HMAs, and all had values lower than those reported for the Spanish and Sicilian donkeys. Five of the 12 HMAs had diversity values at least one standard deviation below the mean value obtained from the four domestic donkey breeds.

    Only 12 of the 28 HMAs have had genetic studies of free-ranging burros. Of the remaining 16 HMAs, seven had AMLs over 50 and nine had AMLs under 50. All but one of the reports on burros provided to the committee involved samples collected during 2001-2005.


  16. All of this is illegal. The Bureau of Land Management does not have the authority to remove horses from their Congressionally approved herd management areas. This needs to stop. In.a 1999-2000 document produced by the BLM, Dr, Gus Cochran determined the minimum number of horses in isolated areas (no other herds nearby) is 150 to 200. This is likely based on his study of the Pryor Mountain herd with Dr. Bill Springer (1987). Herd numbers of 30, 50, 60 are not genetically viable and the professional fraudsters at the BLM, NPS, FS, FWS, APHIS, Wildlife Management, and the National Academy of Sciences know this. The NAS report stated that the origin of the horse was not part of their report, and that their report was based on science. Of course the origin of the horse is a matter of science, so if these scientists are writing that what we know is true, is actually not true, in an otherwise well documented and otherwise factual report, this piece of it should give us pause.

    We know that the scientists working on the report know that the origin of species is a
    scientific matter, so why would they make a point of including this statement in a report that is supposed to be factual? What were they telling us and what are we to do about it?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. BLM: Epic Mismanagement, Waste, And Corruption

    Capt. William E. Simpson May 12, 2015

    The United States government and its agencies are in no position to be wasting hard-earned taxpayer dollars. As it stands, many taxpayers are severely over-taxed as a result of reckless spending by bureaucrats without any regard for the fiduciary duty that the Government and its many agencies are bound to observe. In fact, if any corporate CEO ran things the way many of these politicians and administrators are running the public’s agencies, those CEOs would likely end up in jail for criminal malfeasance. Let’s face the facts; some of the politicians and agency administrators are as bad as, and in some cases worse than, the crooks at Enron.

    The Bureau of Land Management (‘BLM’) is just one example of an autocratic government agency that seems to operate as if it answers to no one and regularly wastes money and resources as it seems to concurrently violate U.S. laws and the rights of American taxpayers (talk about biting the hand that feeds). And as a result of this pervasive attitude combined with the growing number of government agencies that act as if they were fiefdoms, America is languishing under a wave of epic waste of resources and taxpayer dollars. Let’s look at just a couple glaring examples.

    Concurrently, with the forgoing malfeasance and waste of millions of tax dollars, we have the BLM mismanaging the federally-protected wild horses; they are spending millions more tax dollars to hold wild horses in captivity, horses that should be running free on the public range-land, according to the Federal ‘Wild Burro and Horse Protection Act’. On top of this, the BLM is not providing transparency into their operations, including and with respect to over 1,700 federally-protected wild horses that seem to have been illegally sold for slaughter!


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