Location: The Little Harquahala Herd Area (HA) is located southeast of Salome, Arizona, between U.S. Highway 60 and Interstate 10. The area is accessed by taking the Salome to Buckeye Road southeast toward Interstate 10. The extreme portion of the Harquahala Mountains and the majority of the Little Harquahala Mountains lie within the area.
Size: The Herd Area includes 66,000 acres of upper Sonoran Desert habitat, where the desert mountains are separated by the Centennial Wash.
Habitat: The region’s mountains are covered with palo verde, ironwood and catclaw acacia. Here, wild burros stay in the mountains on either side of Centennial Wash during mild winters. The area receives about five inches of rain annually, mainly in the winter months. In the summer, when temperatures exceed 100 degrees, the burros move down into the valley. Burros share their home with desert bighorn sheep and desert mule deer. Wildlife found in the area include desert tortoise, several species of rattle snakes and a variety of birds and other reptiles.
History: Wild burros were introduced to this portion of the desert in the late 1800s as released or escaped livestock. As mining booms played out and alternative transportation became available, burros were left to fend for themselves. Burros evolved in the harsh deserts of North Africa and are very well adapted to the dry desert environment. Left alone in this remote region with few natural predators, the wild burro population flourished.
Population: Today, the wild burro population inhabiting the Little Harquahala Herd Area is nonexistent.
Management: Due to the small and isolated nature of the area and conflicts with private landowners and resource values, land use planning documents developed in the early 1980s prescribed a “zero population” for the Little Harquahala HA. However, funding was not provided and removal to a zero population did not occur. The BLM Lower Gila Resource Management Plan and Management Framework Plan Amendment, currently pending approval, proposes establishing the Little Harquahala HA as a management area. Wild burro populations would be managed to maintain a thriving, natural ecological balance.