In 2022, America’s wild burros are under an unprecedented assault due to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) massive roundups and subsequent warehousing of them in holding pens.
The BLM has also chosen to use helicopters instead of bait trapping. Burro roundups by helicopter are known to be traumatic for them. Burros are very stoic and often stand their ground in the face of danger. There is documented evidence of their abuse, such as helicopter skids striking a burro.
About 1.7 million acres are home to the Centennial, Panamint, and Slate Range Herd Areas (HA) for about 500 wild burros. The BLM’s goal was to remove all wild burros from these herd areas.
Those already rounded up from these areas were sent to a facility where there was no shade and temperatures were reaching into the 90s.
Advocates documenting this roundup reported that while the goal was to capture 490 burros, the roundup concluded early with 181 removed. One death of a jenny (female burro) was due to a head injury, and injuries like “rope burn” on others were reported.
Over 99,000 acres makes up the Sinbad Herd Management Area (HMA) which is home to just over 300 burros. Part of the BLM’s 14-year-old plan is to make the Appropriate Management Level (AML) for these burros very low at 50-70.
During this roundup, witnesses saw multiple violations of the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program (CAWP) which included reports of contractors leaving captured burros on stock trailers for hours with no visible access to water along with excessive roping, where at least one burro was knocked down.
This roundup concluded early, with just over 150 burros captured rather than the BLM’s plan to remove approximately 300. One death occurred when a 7 year old burro fell into a 5′ crevice while chased by a wrangler.
Arizona’s Black Mountain HMA stretches over a million acres of land and the BLM estimates 2,900 wild burros live there. The BLM planned to remove just over 1,000 of these wild burros.
From what observers (kept at a good distance) could view showed that burros were chased for long distances and appeared stressed. One burro crashed into a gate panel and another burro was distressed entering the trap and attempted to charge the wranglers. The BLM had given contractors permission to use electric cattle prods on several burros while loading them onto trailers.
Information from the BLM’s Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program Assessment report indicated the contractor’s staff treated burros in an abusive and inhumane manner, such as “aggressively hitting and jabbing the paddle into the sides and sensitive areas of burros.” In spite of the noted violations, the roundup carried on. When it ended in May, just over 1,100 burros had been captured.