Location: The Havasu Herd Management Area (HMA) lies in west central Arizona along the Colorado and Bill Williams rivers. The HMA is divided into two by the Colorado River. The HMA also sits adjacent to the Chemeheuvi Herd Management Area across the California border.
Size: The Havasu HMA contains 450,800 acres of Lower Colorado Sonoran Desert. In Arizona, the HMA measures 372,570 acres, while the California portion encompasses 78,220 acres.
Habitat: The wild burros living within the Havasu HMA roam freely throughout the entire area, characterized by arroyo-scarred alluvial fans and steep, rocky volcanic mountains. There are four major vegetation communities found within the HMA. These include open hills covered with creosote bush; primary and secondary washes known for their palo verde and burro bush; and, secondary washes made up primarily of palo verde and creosote. Summer temperatures can be brutal, with the thermometer sometimes rising above 125 degrees, and 100 days per year of 100-degree temperatures. Wild burros share this habitat with desert bighorn sheep and desert mule deer. Other animals in the area include small mammals, desert tortoise, several species of rattle snake, a variety of bird such as the southwester willow flycatcher, lizards and amphibians.
History: Burros began to populate this region along the lower Colorado River after a short-lived mining boom in 1858. With the decline of mining and the emergence of the railroad at the end of the nineteenth century, many of the animals were abandoned into the surrounding hills.
Population: Burros evolved in the hard deserts of North Africa and adapted very well to the desert environment of the Havasu HMA. Left alone in this remote region with few natural predators, the wild burro population thrived. Today, the population is estimated to be about 142 animals, with some about half living within the Arizona portion of the HMA. In this area, about 90 percent of the burros are gray in color, with the remaining 10 percent being black, brown, white pinto or piebald. Some burros possess the shoulder cross characteristic of the ancestral Nubian wild ass, and many have leg barrings associated with the Somali wild ass. Adult burros average 48 inches in height and weigh about 350 pounds. During the summer months, the burros concentrate in the critical areas, generally within a mile or so of all major water sources. During cooler months, the animals move into the mountains and scatter throughout the region.
Management: The wild burros living within the Havasu HMA are managed by the BLM in an ecological balance to protect forage plants. This ensures there is plenty of feed for the burros, as well as other wildlife species. When vegetative monitoring sites show that the wild burro population is exceeding the Appropriate Management Level, the BLM will remove some of the animals and offer them to the public through the BLM’s Adopt a Wild Horse or Burro Program.