Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Today: BLM Roundup of Historic Arizona Burros to Begin Amid Congressional and Expert Opposition

American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign

une 5, 2012 by
While Agency Now States Helicopter Stampede Will Not Occur in Temperatures 95 Degrees or Hotter, Humane Concerns Remain
Yuma, AZ (June 6, 2012). . . The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today launched what will be the largest burro roundup of 2012, targeting 350 historic wild Arizona burros for removal from the southern Sonora Desert despite calls from Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), an Arizona equine veterinarian and other experts to postpone the capture operation. The agency launched the operation at 6:30 a.m. this morning in the Cibola-Trigo Herd Management Area (HMA), located 20 miles north of Yuma, Arizona. (See BLM announcement here.)

Congressman Grijalva, Dr. Michael Hutchison, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, a national coalition, and others have written to the BLM over the past week urging the agency to postpone the helicopter stampede over concerns about the dangers of stampeding burros with helicopters in high summer desert temperatures and other humane issues.

In response, the BLM has verbally stated that it is reversing a plan to stampede the Cibola-Trigo burros in temperatures as high as 105 degrees F, and will instead halt all roundup operations when temperatures reach 95 degrees F.

Experts, including livestock industry consultant Temple Grandin and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), have advised the BLM that roundup operations should not occur in temperatures over 90 degrees due to concerns about dehydration and extreme exertion in animals already stressed by heat and low water resources.

“The BLM’s decision to halt the roundup at 95 degrees is, like most BLM policies, arbitrary and not based on science. All the experts agree — roundup activities should cease at 90 degrees – not 95 degrees, a temperature that the BLM basically just pulled out of its hat,” said Suzanne Roy, director for the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC). The BLM must either cancel the roundup or immediately implement improved minimum humane conditions — including our call to lower the maximum temperature restriction and to ensure that helicopters do not repeatedly chase burros or pursue single animals and that shade is provided to the animals once captured.”

The BLM has a history of ignoring scientific evidence and expert advice. Just last month, a federal judge warned the BLM that it could not remain “studiously ignorant” of material scientific evidence in expert declarations on the negative impacts of castrating wild stallions on individual animals and herds as a whole.

“We’re disappointed that the BLM will not, at minimum, postpone the burro roundup until fall, when desert temperatures will be lower and conditions will be safer,” said Julianne French, a Tucson-based wild horse and burro advocate. “Better yet, the agency should cancel the roundup altogether and leave these historic burros alone, to survive in the Sonora Desert landscape as their ancestors have done for nearly two centuries.”

French, who was informed by the BLM in Arizona that the agency would change its protocol to stop roundup operations at 95 degrees instead of 105 degrees noted that the agency has yet to put the change in writing. “Conducting a burro roundup in extreme desert temperatures is a health and safety issue for burros, the observing public, BLM staff and contractors. We call on BLM to improve transparency by releasing its revised Standard Operating Procedure to the public immediately,” French concluded.

The million-acre Cibola-Trigo HMA extends from the Imperial Dam, west of the Colorado River, to Walters Camp in California ’s lower Sonora Desert . After the BLM rounds up and removes 350 burros from Cibola Trigo, it will move across the Colorado River into California’s Chocolate-Mule Herd Area (HA). There the agency will target so called “nuisance burros” who reside on private land that was once a part of the HA, for removal.

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is a coalition of more than 50 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come.

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For more information, please see:

AWHPC Letter to the BLM

Representative Grijalva’s letter to the BLM

Dr. Michael Hutchison letter to the BLM

Dr. Jennifer Garretson letter to the BLM

News Release on AWHPC/Veterinarian Letters to the BLM

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