: The Big Sandy Herd Management Area (HMA) is located in west central Arizona, 55 miles southeast of Kingman on either side of U.S. Highway 93. The HMA includes the areas of the Big Sandy River Valley, south of Wikieup to Alamo Lake, Burro Creek to the confluence of Boulder Creek and west through the southern foothills of the Hualapai Mountains.
Size: The landscape of this 244,000-acre HMA is diverse. Vegetation here includes plants typical to Arizona’s interior chaparral, grasslands and lower Sonoran Desert shrub communities.
Habitat: The waters of the Big Sandy River flow lazily into a valley between the Hualapai Mountains on the west and the Aquarius Mountains on the east. Typical to its character, the HMA is known for its narrow river beds resting in broad valley troughs, deep gorges and sheer cliffs. The uplands are made up of sloping alluvial fans, dissected by sandy washes. The climate here is generally warm, windy and dry with highs exceeding 120 degrees and lows approaching a freezing 30 degrees. The area sees rain fall averages between 7 to 14 inches annually, falling as intense thunderstorms in late summer and gentle, wind spread rain in the winter months.
History: Burros were first introduced to the Big Sandy area in the 1860s, when mining began to flourish around the confluence of the Big Sandy and Santa Maria rivers, today the site of the Alamo Reservoirs. By the 1870s, word of the region spread and mining and farming were common throughout the Big Sandy Valley. Burros were used by miners for hauling ore and rubble from the mines, and farmers kept burros for breeding mules as work animals. Escaped or released burros returned to the wild, rapidly increasing their numbers throughout the Big Sandy River Valley.
Population: Wild burros living in the Big Sandy HMA today are typically grey in color, though some may be brown, pink or black. These animals weigh between 450 and 500 pounds and average 44 inches in height at the shoulder when fully grown. The burros generally inhabit the lower areas of the region, preferring river bottom areas. The current population is estimated to be about 209.
Management: The BLM manages wild burros within the Big Sandy HMA to maintain a thriving ecological balance within their habitat. The current populations of about 140 burros share the lands with livestock, mule deer, javelina, desert tortoise and a wide variety of desert wildlife. When the burro population increases to a level where the health of the habitat may be impacted, some burros are relocated. These animals are available to the public through the BLM’s wild horse and burro adoption program.