Bureau of Land Management concludes emergency gather of Sinbad burros
PRICE, Utah —The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has completed an emergency water/bait trapping operation to remove wild burros that have been habituated to unauthorized water sources. The BLM was forced to undertake this gather and removal operation because unauthorized delivery of water to the wild burros changed their natural behaviors, causing irreparable harm to their wild and free-roaming nature by drawing them away from better forage areas and natural water sources. The BLM gathered 36 burros and transferred the animals to the Axtell Contracted Off-Range Corral Facility.
“Unauthorized water delivery interfered with the wild and free roaming nature of the burros in the Sinbad Herd Management Area,” said Utah State Director Greg Sheehan. “These wild burros were impacted and displaced by these unauthorized actions.”
After learning about unauthorized water delivery to wild burros in and near the Muddy Creek and Sinbad Herd Management Areas (HMAs), the BLM determined that an emergency gather would be necessary because the wild burros appeared to have become accustomed to being in the presence of humans and congregating away from their natural water sources. The wild burros from the Sinbad HMA traverse the range during dry conditions and throughout summer months and instinctually know how to find water. Shallow water sources and ponds near well traveled roads tend to dry up causing concern for the public who may not be aware that natural water sources, which are nearby but beyond the view of the motoring public, provide ample water.
"The Utah Department of Natural Resources supports the Bureau of Land Management's efforts to manage wild horse and burro populations at appropriate management levels," said Utah Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Brian Steed. "Wild horses and burros do not recognize state and federal boundaries, and we support all efforts to prevent overpopulation for the protection of Utah's ecosystems and wildlife.”
The BLM Price Field Office, which oversees management of these areas, is keenly aware of the challenges when it comes to available water and forage. Since early April 2020, the BLM has been conducting weekly visits to the area to check on the health of the wild horses and burros—as well as water and forage resources. The BLM was proactively monitoring the herds before receiving any reports that animals were allegedly out of water. The BLM has been managing drought concerns for these herds for years, going back to 1999 when a severe drought incident occurred.
The Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 requires the BLM to protect and manage wild horses and burros in a manner designed to maintain a thriving natural ecological balance on rangelands. In the past, BLM hauled water to compromised animals in these areas but found they are typically reluctant to drink out of artificial water troughs and would find water naturally if allowed to do so. Additionally, placing unauthorized water troughs into dry ponds encourages the animals to stay in areas with no natural water instead of moving into the more remote locations with natural water sources.
The BLM encourages the public to please reach out to their local BLM office before taking actions to support the health and welfare of any wild horses or burros. For wildlife concerns, the public is encouraged to reach out to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
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This year, we invite everyone to reimagine your public lands as we celebrate 75 years of the BLM’s stewardship and service to the American people. The BLM manages approximately 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.