Wild Burros

BLM teams with AZ locals to fence off wild burros from sources of water

“The fence is meant to keep the burros out.”

Locals Involved in Arizona Wild Sheep Conservation Effort

Source:  Rapid City Journal


The crew that built the guzzler.

HOT SPRINGS – The Wild Sheep Foundation’s (WSF) Midwest Chapter earlier this year sent a crew to Arizona to learn how to build a guzzler – a device designed to collect and hold water for wildlife.

Hot Springs’ Matt Rippentrop, Billy Morrow, Tyler Morrow, Teejay Atwood and Sam Simunek were part of the team, and according to an article by Ryan Brock, in WSF’s magazine “Wild Sheep,” this experience taught everyone involved some larger lessons.

Organizations working together can truly accomplish more work and impact more wildlife, writes Brock, while at the same time having a tremendous impact on young people who are learning about conservation.

In March, a coordinated effort by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, WSF’s Midwest Chapter, the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, the Arizona Bureau of Land Management and a little help in funding from the Wild Sheep Foundation along with Cabelas led to another successful year for youth getting involved in building a guzzler.

Eleven students and five chaperones from the Midwest Chapter, including the Hot Springs crew, flew to Nevada to tour Hoover Dam, then they continued on to Fort Mohave, Arizona, where they spent two days building a guzzler with the Silver Peak project.

The build involved shuttling youth and other workers up the steep terrain by helicopter – the guzzler was built on a saddle between two ridges.

“It was the best experiences I have ever had in my whole life,” said Tyler Morrow.

One of his most memorable things was the flight on to the mountainside where the work was being done. This was Morrow’s first memorable flight – he flew at a year old, but doesn’t remember it – and he recalled how the helicopter said Grand Canyon on it, how he got to sit in passenger seat.

As soon at the crew arrived in their camp, Sam Simunek, Teejay Atwood and Morrow began to explore the area.

Morrow described his chores for the project: “As a group, we dug fence holes to keep the wild burros out of the area where the guzzler was,” Morrow said. “The helicopter brought the materials for everything on to the mountain. We had to measure the height of the horizontal bars on the fence. This will keep the burros out, but still allow the sheep to get in.”

“When we got there, there was already a hole for the basin that holds the water for the sheep,” Morrow said. “The watering hole was gravity fed. A few people filled in the spaces between the three storage tanks. When we left the area, the project drain wasn’t complete, but some other people stayed behind to finish the drain.”

Morrow thanked all of the volunteers on this “awesome” trip, with a big thank you for Rippentrop, the Arizona Game and Fish, the volunteers on this trip, and the Wild Sheep Foundation’s Midwest Chapter.

Atwood also had great memories of the trip.

“I was very excited to participate in the Arizona guzzler project,” Atwood said, recalling the long ride to the Minneapolis airport and the unexpected Hoover Dam tour, the “biggest substation I have ever seen… covered with power lines.”

“We stayed in a camp at the work site and I got to meet a lot of interesting people,” Atwood continued. “I learned guzzlers function through a rain-fed gravity tarp system. My main job was digging fence post holes. I also mixed and poured concrete. The fence is meant to keep the burros out.”

Read the rest of this story HERE.

31 replies »

  1. From PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility)

    Controversial Artificial Impoundments Failing Their Purpose

    Remote cameras installed to detect bighorn sheep use at two controversial man-made water developments constructed in the Kofa Wilderness in 2007 suggest the tanks have completely failed to provide water for bighorns. The cameras, installed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) at the McPherson and Yaqui Tanks, captured photos of mule deer, hawks, doves, vultures, coyotes and bobcats, but not a single bighorn drinking from the tanks in the two years since their construction.
    “Building these artificial water developments in an attempt to artificially inflate bighorn sheep numbers was contrary to preserving the area as wilderness,” stated George Nickas, Executive Director of Wilderness Watch. “We’ve felt all along that the project was wrong from both a legal and ecological standpoint. The camera data bear that out and they completely undermine the USFWS’ argument that the tanks are necessary in Wilderness.”

    A coalition of local and national conservation groups, including Wilderness Watch, the Sierra Club, and the Arizona Wilderness Coalition, filed a lawsuit in June 2007 after learning the USFWS had constructed one 13,000-gallon tank within the Kofa Wilderness and was planning to install a second. In 2008, the District Court in Phoenix ruled in favor of the USFWS. The conservation groups have appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

    “The agencies have failed to demonstrate that, despite many years of constructing artificial water catchments, these catchments do anything to help the bighorn sheep,” said Sandy Bahr, Chapter Director for the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter. “They violated the laws that protect wilderness and provide for transparency in the public process all to build tanks that the sheep don’t use. We want to ensure that both the federal and state agencies are taking actions that have had public review and comment opportunity and that are truly in the best interest of wildlife, wilderness, and the greater public.”

    The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s (AGFD) McPherson Tank Habitat Enhancement and Wildlife Management Proposal lists species to benefit as: bighorn sheep 90% and mule deer 10%. AGFD’s website also lists both the McPherson Tank and the Yaqui Tank in a table of “waters considered to be critical to bighorn sheep, based on their locations in sheep habitat and documentation of sheep use from waterhole counts, aerial surveys, and remote cameras.” The data, however, clearly fail to support the Department and Service’s claims.

    “Bighorn avoidance of these tanks is part of a disturbing failure of Arizona Game and Fish and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to understand critical needs of bighorn on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge,” said ecologist Daniel Patterson, Southwest Director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. Patterson is also an Arizona hunter.

    “These waterholes were clearly constructed for desert mule deer as any wildlife biologist or hunter familiar with bighorn habitat would understand a priori,” stated retired Kofa biologist Ron Kearns. “McPherson Tank—especially—will artificially inflate mule deer populations that will likely compete for limited forage and finite freestanding water resources where their extensive home ranges overlap with the more restrictive ranges of Kofa bighorn. Importantly, this waterhole could help extend the home ranges and increase densities of mountain lions, while serving as a localized ‘prey trap’ for all predators.”



    “Arizona Game and Fish seems engaged in biological McCarthyism against the small at-risk remaining population of Kofa pumas,” stated Southwest PEER Director Daniel Patterson, noting that AGFD had recently killed two Kofa pumas. “Killing pumas for being wild in nature is misguided wildlife management.”


  3. This is disgusting, on so many levels…
    Locking out burros so they can die of thirst, then patting themselves on the back for it. Really EXCELLENT work, fellas.
    Saving Big Horn because they are a magnificent species teetering on the brink? Um, NO. Preserving Big Horn so some guy with more guns than gonads can purchase a lottery ticket for upwards of half a million dollars for the privilege of blowing one of these beautiful animals to Heaven so he can mount it’s formerly living head on his wall just like Nature intended. In turn, all that cash goes into programs- like this one! – to preserve the next generation of big horn for another dumbass with a rifle and no respect.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Arizona bighorn project criticized for deaths

    State wildlife officials addressed critics of its sheep-relocation project Friday, saying the effort could still prove successful despite the deaths of more than a dozen bighorns north of Tucson.

    Animal welfare advocates have been divided over the transplanting last November of 31 bighorns east from the Yuma area to the Santa Catalina Mountains.
    Ben Brochu, an Arizona Game and Fish wildlife manager involved in the project, said the 15 sheep deaths were a surprise.

    “We expected to lose sheep. I don’t think anyone expected to lose them at this rate,” Brochu said. “But it’s still too early to throw in the towel. But by the same token, we need to be able to evaluate all the different options and figure out how to proceed.”
    Friends of Wild Animals, a coalition of local residents, joined with Supporting & Promoting Ethics for the Animal Kingdom in calling for an end to the project. Both groups plan to protest the issue outside an Arizona Game and Fish Commission meeting today.

    Ben Pachano, a Friends of Wild Animals spokesman, said trying to boost populations doesn’t justify putting the sheep in a vulnerable position or killing predatory mountain lions. He also disagreed with supporters’ assessment that the agency’s removal of three mountain lions did little overall damage to the mountain lion population.

    “I’m always skeptical of ‘It could be worse’ arguments,” Pachano said. “I think it’s a logical trick. I think the underlying attitude of ‘We’re going to remove a predator for exhibiting perfectly natural behavior’ shows an ideological corruption in the program.”


  5. The secret lives of well-digging burros

    A researcher in the Arizona desert is unearthing hitherto unknown secrets about the remarkable well-digging exploits of wild burros.

    Erick Lundgren, a PhD student in the biology program at Arizona State University, has used motion detecting game cameras in his research to learn more about the ability of burros to dig for water, and has also chronicled many other species taking advantage of the burros’ wells.

    Lundgren, who has worked as a field technician in projects involving birds, mammals, and rivers over the last nine years, has focused his efforts on Arizona’s desert, where burros can dig wells more than a meter deep.

    “Many species use these wells for drinking water,” Lundgren told Horsetalk.
    “From my preliminary data, it appears that burros are significantly increasing water availability in the desert.

    Lundgren said a small grant from Arizona State University had enabled him to buy several trail cameras for his research. That enabled him to document 13 species using these wells, including bighorn sheep.


  6. why are they not doing this for the wild animals . in other places ??? i did not see anything about how the burro’s is going to get water . all i seen was people telling about their life experiences while working on this project. nothing about how the wild ones is going to survive. really people . why cant the government leave the natural balances in life alone .

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is sheer bs. And if is useless. Oh great and free labor from kids who support the big horns. I think it’s funny that the big horns aren’t using it. But to destroy the Burros and other wildlife is just plain destructive. A bunch of government cons is ask they are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • and teaching kids to do it in the process…getting the future generation on board early…simply disgusting all the way around…how easily it was for him to say fence them out, to deprive a living creature to water…future BLM employee…


  8. Strange that we always hear that there are NO predators taking the wild horses & burros but apparently they all prefer bighorn sheep??? Must be no one ever did any research before they did this wonderful supportive project – as in the fact that the other times this was done – NO sheep visited the water hole??????????????
    Odd, isnt it – when there are actual physical research projects – these people just use their own little viewpoints & do their thing! Yeah, got to increase bighorn sheep numbers so someone can KILL them!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wasn’t there a scenario in which wild horses were fenced out of a water source and died of dehydration? Let’s hope and pray that these burros are able to dig out their own wells. I’ve seen footage of them doing it. Yet again, it doesn’t mean that the whole desert has easily accessible ground water. If even a single burro dies due to this project, someone charge the persons responsible for this with animal cruelty. If that’s not doable, we might have to talk about bringing forth a lawsuit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope the burros DO dig up water, and someone documents the Bighorn Sheep then using that waterhole and not the guzzler, as seems likely. What a bunch of short-sighted, non-science based profiteering. Too bad the kids are not being taught to think more systemically. One can hope some will look further than this experience as they mature.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That is not all they do. They put up fencing across underpasses that were originally built to accommodate wildlife passage under the highway. The BLM and Forest Service (some of this is State land managed by the Forest Service) are intentionally setting up nuisance burro situations so that they can come in and remove them without scrutiny. The burros being hit in Bullhead City have been similarly set up. I investigated that while I was there. There is a valley between two peaks that lead to this point of crossing Bullhead pkwy. Just on the other side is the Colorado River. There is poor lighting, no warning signs, no attempts to deter the burros OR accommodate them with a wildlife crossing (s). What is even more contemptible is that Bullhead City was carved out of the Black Mountain HA. In fact it is still legally inside the boundaries. Nearby in Havasu they are doing the same thing. They block passage and fence off water. The burros are survivors, but the growing pressures are becoming more than they can overcome.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. This is not the first time this inhumane animal abuse has been done to the burros in Arizona.
    This is management for extinction of the burros – not to mention the suffering that they will endure by dehydration while trying to access the water that they can see and smell in the guzzler.
    This also causes the burros to seek other water sources which sometimes causes them to wander across highways – and then, of course if they are not killed from vehicles, it gives the BLM the opportunity to capture and remove them into the “burro pipeline” and I think we all know where many of those burros end up.
    In addition, in this western AZ area, the actual legal herd area acreage for the burros are no longer managed for the burros – i.e. their natural source for water (the Colorado river) is now occupied by big casinos and subdivisions.
    The big horn sheep are part of the AZ Fish and Wildlife TROPHY hunting group — big big money is spent on getting these hunting tags. I believe the current cost for a bighorn sheep to be killed by trophy hunting is $1,815.00 each. The AZ Game and Fish is entirely dedicated to trophy hunting. The guzzlers are built in order to make more money by hunting and not for the survival of the species.
    Our wild burros are absolutely being managed for extinction!

    Liked by 1 person

    • They auction tags to hunt bighorn and they commonly go for over $200,000. each. With money like this being pushed around, you can bet it influences management decisions. They are managing for a single species snd in so doing are setting that species up to fail too. Without diversity, the environment will not be healthy. Of course the bighorn will be affected too. They should know better too. They are scientist. They understand the data. It seems short term gain and self enrichment is too tempting.
      I wish there were a way to put the dollar value of tourism on burros. People want to see them when they come to AZ. They visit hotels, rent cars, fly airlines, eat at restaurants etc. Tourism is worth millions to AZ.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. There needs to be a research study conducted on this group…should reveal some interesting data.

    What makes rich men want to hunt beautiful animals?

    As the world rounds on lion-killer Walter Palmer, Martin Daubney, who has participated in wolf and crocodile hunts, offers an insight into the mind of a hunter

    Our pilot flushed a pack of startled wolves from the undergrowth and Mario and I began firing.

    I can still see that dead wolf cartwheeling through the snow. Had Mario taken it or me? I’ll never know. As I stooped over the dead wolf, I wrote at the time, “I feel a deep sense of shame, of revulsion. This magnificent creature has been snuffed out and for what? For some city ponce to live out a Rambo fantasy?”
    But my sadness wasn’t shared by Mario, who seemed exhilarated by the kill.
    Mario had hired dogs, which had chased the bear for three days through a Siberian blizzard, before it retreated to a cave.

    “We sent the dogs down,” he explained. “We heard the bear roar and one of the dogs yelped: killed. The bear came up the tunnel at us and swiped another dog aside like he wasn’t even there. Next, he was coming for us. I pulled out my rifle and – ‘boof’ – took him straight through the heart. I’ve never felt anything like it. It cost $20,000 but was worth it. It was the ultimate rush.”


  12. Whistling for the Jaguar
    The un-redacted story of the jaguar, Macho B’s snaring and death

    i anted to thank everyone who has taken the time to read this blog and become interested in jaguar and/or wildlife conservation. My goal with this blog and my recently published book, Cloak & Jaguar was to provide all the information I have (via a FOIA request) regarding Macho B’s capture and death. What you, the reader, does with that information is, well, up to you. I encourage anyone who is interested in wildlife conservation to become a responsible advocate for the cause.

    Bottom line
    AZGFD did not have a permit to intentionally or inadvertently capture a jaguar because they violated the federal law known as the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by not initiating any consultation/review/checklist for the lion/bear project that was occurring in known jaguar habitat and when it was known Macho B was present. AZGFD violated every permit they had, nullifying all of them, and thus, the AZGFD lion/bear project was an illegal study and Macho B’s capture was in violation of the ESA.



  13. Copied this comment from the original news post. We need to contact this group and educate them on why all animals deserve access to water in the desert. “HoldYourHorses Dec 30, 2016 3:25pm
    So… did it even occur to anyone to ask why the device is designed to make wild burros die of thirst? How could anyone call such a project a ‘success’ when one of the most prominent features is to prevent one animal from having access to water, while insuring that only another animal gets it all? Cruel, short-sighted, counter-productive to the big picture, and terribly inhumane. This project was a big whopping FAIL.”

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Read Marybeth Devlin’s comment on the Havasu News article.
    I don’t think she will mind it being posted here
    Also the other comments from the local residents truly tell the REAL story


    Reader comment
    Marybeth Devlin

    1. The wild-burro “overpopulation” exists only on BLM’s falsified spreadsheets. The Black Mountain burros are, in fact, underpopulated. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recommends a minimum herd-size of 2,500.

    2. Burros are slow to reproduce. Gestation lasts an average of 12 months but can extend as long as 14 months. A jenny gives birth to just 1 foal, typically in alternate years.

    3. The burro birth rate is about 14%; but half of foals die before their first birthday. Thus, the effective increase in new burro-foals is just 7%. However, at least 5% of wild burros other-than-foals also die every year. Their death-rate (5%) further reduces the surviving-foal rate (7%), yielding an average herd-growth rate of 2%. Thus, it would take 35 years for a burro-herd to double.

    4. In the past 3 years, BLM has reported fraudulent herd-growth rates for Arizona’s Black Mountain burros: 25% (more than 12 times the norm), 45% (more than 22 times the norm), and 7% (more than 3 times the norm). Such growth is biologically impossible. Please note that the errors compound, as each successive year’s growth is estimated based on those that preceded it.

    5. BLM staffers cannot claim ignorance. They are college-educated professionals with degrees in science and range management. They are well-aware that wild-burro herds cannot increase at such high rates. Yet, even after the fraudulent growth-estimates are brought to their attention, they willfully continue to cite them, causing local officials, such as Mr. Watson and Mr. Moss, to become alarmed needlessly. Why the falsification? Apparently, to prompt Congress to increase the Agency’s budget.

    6. BLM is bound by law – the Data Quality Act – and by policy -the Department of the Interior’s Code of Scientific and Scholarly Conduct – to disseminate information obtained through “as rigorous scientific and scholarly processes as can be achieved.” However, BLM’s data with regard to wild burros is deceitful.

    7. The stocking-density that BLM imposes on the Black Mountain burros is absurdly low. BLM restricts the herd to 1 burro per 4 square miles. At 2 burros per 4 square miles, BLM calls them “overpopulated.”

    8. Burros do not bother other wildlife, such as bighorn. Wehausen (1998) concluded that “a negative influence of burros on bighorn sheep demography has not been shown as support for true competition.” Arizona’s current estimated population of bighorn is 6,000.

    9. Burros do not disadvantage mule deer. According to the Arizona Game & Fish Department, “Mule deer are the most abundant big-game animal in Arizona, with the statewide population estimated at 120,000 post-hunt adults.”

    10. To develop a Final Solution to a concocted crisis, BLM is handing out $11 million for sterilization-studies. The grant money is surely intended to buy loyalty and silence potential criticism from recipients. Plus, BLM gets to cloak itself in respectability by affiliating with prestigious institutions such as universities.

    11. HSUS is seeking BLM funding to experimentally inject the Black Mountain wild burros with PZP, a sterilant. But because HSUS is the registrant of PZP, a conflict of interest is apparent. Lacking scientific impartiality, HSUS must be disqualified from being paid to study its sponsored product, and from using taxpayer money to sterilize underpopulated wild burros.

    12. PZP is a pesticide that was registered without fulfilling the standard testing requirements, relying merely on what now appear to have been misrepresentations by the manufacturer. There is currently a lawsuit challenging the legitimacy of the registration, especially in light of new studies that have disclosed PZP’s many adverse side-effects.

    13. PZP causes disease -auto-immune disease. Behaving like a perverted vaccine, PZP tricks the immune system into producing antibodies that induce ovarian dystrophy, autoimmune oophoritis, ovarian cysts, and premature ovarian failure. PZP quickly sterilizes jennies that have a strong immune system but has no effect on those suffering from weak immunity. Thus, PZP both “works” and “doesn’t work” but, in the long run, selects for low immune function, thus weakening a herd’s resistance to infection. If a jenny is pregnant or nursing when injected, PZP antibodies are transferred to her offspring via the placenta and milk. Stillbirths are also associated with the pesticide’s use, meaning that some of its apparent contraceptive effects are actually feticidal.

    14 The experiments proposed by HSUS call for the jennies to be captured and then transported to a holding facility for injection with PZP. They would be held captive for the next several weeks in order to administer a second “booster” shot of PZP. Most (70 to 100) of the jenny-subjects would be freeze-branded with three digits on both hips for convenience in identifying them. The ugly freeze-marks would be 3½ or 4 inches high, and large in width. They would ruin a jenny’s appearance for the rest of her life.

    15. PZP is a powerful endocrine-disruptor. The EPA Pesticide Fact Sheet warns women that accidental self-injection with PZP may cause infertility. Unfortunately, because the manufacturer misrepresented PZP as “so safe it is boring,” volunteer-darters have become lax in following safety-precautions.

    16 Nature provides the right-way to right-size a herd: predators. Burros do have natural predators, among them mountain lions and coyotes. Both species are present in the Black Mountain area. If BLM believes that inadequate numbers of predators prevent them from fulfilling their population-control function, then BLM should work with AZGFD to conserve them.

    17. The mortality rate of captive mustangs runs about 8% a year. Because they do not reproduce, their numbers steadily decline, showing that BLM’s billion-dollar figure for their lifetime care is just another Lie. BLM has since multiplied its original $1 billion figure by 230%, amplifying the fraud.

    18. There are 22 million acres of wild-horse-and-burro habitat that BLM took away for political expediency. That land should be reopened and the equine captives freed there. Cost: $0.


    • Thank you for re-posting this letter, Louie and special thanks to Marybeth Devlin for researching and writing the truth. Excellent!


  15. It appears that more Las Vegas sprawl is in the works – and it appears to be right out into/adjoining the wild burro legal herd area. “Sprawl begets sprawl and approval of the Blue Diamond Hill development is likely to result in increased pressure on the Federal government to “dispose” of the adjacent public lands to accommodate even more development. The construction of 5,000 homes next to public lands will have an edge effect that erodes the quality of the wildlife habitat on those lands.”
    More information:


  16. The BLM needs to quit lying about the numbers really and they only wanted to kill more wildlife and only saving the ones that needs water. Know what they need to stop altogether and start realizing that they are not doing anything to help all wildlife period. They are hurting more than they think they are and I do not trust the BLM anymore because they want to sell, kill, being so greedy and they want hundreds of thousand of dollars lined up in their pockets instead of returning the money to help animals everywhere and do you think that doing what is good for the animals is justified ? No it is not ! BLM needs to be investigated everywhere or be replaced by those who do love animals and wants to help not to single animal breed out. All wildlife animals needs water period. Just saying.


  17. You idiots !!!!! Wild burros matter! They are not lesser Animals than Sheep for gods sake!!! Who are you – to judge who gets a drink??? Burros are the worlds most precious and peaceful creatures…. Stop your bs- now…


  18. Just so you know …
    Question: Since when does 175 minus 80 = 635?
    Answer: When BLM does the math.

    Estimated Pre-Gather Population 175
    Number of Animals Removed 80
    Estimated Post Gather Population 635

    Completed FY 10 Gathers (per BLM)
    Black Mt Herd Management Area Arizona


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