BLM plans could include capture of 300 wild burros from Sinbad (Utah) HMA this fall

/ In The News, News, Roundups
Burros at RTF’s San Luis Obispo, Calif.,, satellite sanctuary. Photo by Kaitlyn Toay.

The Bureau of Land Management has released a 10-year planning document for the Sinbad Herd Management Area in Utah that could see about 300 wild burros captured from their home range as soon as this fall. 

Public comments on BLM’s Environmental Assessment are due by Aug. 20. To read the planning document, go here: comment, click the green Participate Now button.

Under BLM’s preferred option, 278 burros would be removed from their home range either in a helicopter roundup or through bait / water trapping, with up to 20 jennies treated and released with fertility control or intrauterinedevices. Removed burros would be offered for adoption or sale.

Subsequent roundups would be held over the next 10 years to maintain the agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” as well as to boost fertility control vaccines.

The agency-set Appropriate Management Level for the 99,241-acre Sinbad Herd Management Area is 50-70 burros, or as low as one burro for every 1,985 acres. In March 2021, the population of burros was estimated at 269, not counting this year’s foals.

By comparison, livestock grazing allotments that overlap the HMA are allowed up to 14,487 Animal Unit Months, overwhelmingly used for cattle. One AUM equals the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow or five sheep for one month. Actual use over the past six years averaged about 50 percent of the allowed maximum, according to planning documents.

None of the options BLM is considering include reducing livestock use.

RTF strongly supports safe, proven and humane fertility control as a way to slow, not stop, reproduction and reduce future removals.

The BLM would either use PZP, a proven, safe and humane form of fertility control that Return to Freedom strongly supports, or the vaccine Gonacon. Because GonaCon affects the hormone system, it may cause other behavioral changes that would alter herd dynamics. More studies are needed to ensure that GonaCon meets the parameters of ethical and thoughtful wildlife fertility control.

RTF opposes the use of IUDs based on past studies. IUDs used more recently by BLM are a newer technology made of a soft, anchor-shaped silicone but RTF remains opposed to their use until they are shown to be safe, humane and effective.

The Sinbad HMA is located on federal and state lands 30 miles west of Green River, Utah. It extends up to 19 miles on both sides of Interstate 70 from the San Rafael Reef to Eagle Canyon.