BLM taking comments on plan to remove Marietta Range (Nev.) burros

/ In The News, News, Roundups

A captured wild burro in off-range holding corrals at the Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Center in Nevada. BLM photo.

The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public comment as it prepares an Environmental Assessment of the removal of wild burros from the Marietta Wild Burro Range in Mineral County, Nev.

Public comments are due by May 15. To submit a public comment, see “Participate Now” here.

The BLM is proposing rounding up and removing “excess” burros inside and outside of the Marietta Range. The agency estimates that the current population there is 450 to 500 burros. The agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” for the 66,046-acre range is 78 to 104 burros.

In 2017, the BLM captured and removed 129 burros on the Marietta Range in a bait-and-trap roundup. Before that, the estimated population stood at 341 burros.

At that time, BLM failed to treat and release jennies with proven, safe and humane fertility control that could have reduced the frequency and size of future roundups.

In 1991, to mark the 20thanniversary of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, the BLM designated Marietta Herd Management Area was designated by the BLM as the nation’s first wild burro range, meaning that it is to be managed “principally” (but not necessarily exclusively) for wild burros.

At the time of the 2017 roundup, the BLM estimated that there were 48 wild horses living on the range there and there were no private livestock. BLM’s scoping document for this roundup did not include current information about wild horses or livestock on the Marietta Range.

Things to consider for your comments:

–In response to BLM’s request early public comment for the Environment Assessment, Return to Freedom strongly recommended emphasizing the immediate use of proven, safe and humane fertility control over removals.

–Removing significant numbers of burros can actually increase foaling rates and perpetuates the failed, decades-long cycle of capture-and-removal, which has led to increased populations of wild horses and burros both on the range and in off-range holding and increased taxpayer costs.

–In addition, the agency’s population target, its “Appropriate Management Level,” is likely to have been based on the agency’s 2010 handbook, which did not take into account any use of fertility control. If fertility control is used, the BLM would need not reduce the population to a “low AML” of 78 to increase the interval between roundups.

–If roundups are to be conducted, RTF strongly recommends the use of water and bait trapping over helicopter drive trapping during which standard operating procedures often go unfollowed, burros are stressed and fearful, and jennies and foals can easily become separated. RTF calls for strict adherence to the agency’s Comprehensive Animal Welfare Protocol and oversight of contractors.