Porter Springs wild burro trapping underway

Porter Springs wild burro trapping underway

Porter Springs wild burro trapping underway

Wild burros trapped near Porter Springs and Empire are available for adoption or sale at the BLM’s Palomino Valley Wild Horse & Burro Corrals north of Sparks. The group includes a few of Pershing County’s unique “pinto” burros said PVC Facility Operations Manager John Neill.

Water and food bait trapping started in early June near Empire before moving to Porter Springs. Some of the burros were adopted shortly after they arrived last month, Neill said on Thursday 

“We’ve adopted out a few burros since they’ve come in from the Seven Troughs gather,” he said. “The gather target was 200 burros. We’ve received roughly 150 burros and I think we’ve had about six burros adopted out.”

Neill expected about 50 more burros before bait and water trapping ends this month. As of last Friday, 169 burros had been trapped and 168 had been transported to PVC. One animal had died so far according to the BLM’s daily gather report with the cause of death listed only as “acute.” Otherwise, the captured burros appeared to be in “excellent” shape, Neill said. 

Prior to adoption, burros are inspected by a veterinarian and are vaccinated, Neill said. The males, known as “jacks”, will be gelded but the female burros, known as “jennies”, will not be spayed prior to adoption. As of last week, three foals had been captured with their mothers.

“We haven’t adopted any of the moms with babies out yet but we do if people have an interest in that,” Neill said. “I think we have three foals right now. Unless somebody wants an intact male, we can do that but our policy is that we castrate everything.”

Burros cost $25 to adopt or purchase. Those who adopt may qualify for the BLM’s wild horse and burro adoption incentive program, Neill said. Adopters receive $500 after adopting an untrained animal then get another $500 after one year when they receive title to the animal.

As for the untrained burros and wild horses not adopted or sold, the BLM holds online auctions with the animals sold to the highest bidder. Wild horses not sold or adopted will go to long-term holding facilities but there are no long-term holding facilities for wild burros, Neill said.

“Most of our burros get placed over time,” he said. “The burros seem to adopt sometimes easier (than wild horses) and sometimes not. It just depends on the person.”

Some of the burros not sold or adopted could be trained at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City then auctioned off along with wild horses in the inmate training program. Burros will be halter-broken and other basic training could make them useful as pack animals.

“A good portion of these burros are going to be transported to the Carson City correctional center and they are going to be put online on our Online Corral Internet Adoption,” Neill said. “They don’t train many of them but they do train a few for the prison adoptions that they hold three times a year. We’ll also be holding some burros here at this facility for adoption as well.”

Wild burros not adopted or sold in Nevada could be transferred to other adoption facilities across the country depending on the demand for burros, Neill said. If still not adopted, burros also can be sold to the highest bidder in online auctions. The animals must be at least eleven years old or, if younger, must have been passed over three times during BLM adoption events. 

Those who want more than a certain number of burros or wild horses must be approved at a higher level and must agree not to sell the animals for slaughter and commercial processing.

“Buyers have to fill out an application and, if it’s more than four animals, it has to go to our director in D.C. to approve that,” Neill said. 

The Trainer Incentive Program (TIP) sponsored by Mustang Heritage Foundation trains wild burros and horses for work and competition leading to more permanent homes for the animals.

“We do have a TIP trainer in California that does a tremendous job placing burros,” Neill said. “She’ll come up and get ten burros at a time and run them through her TIP program.”

According to the BLM, the wild burro population of about 240 animals exceeded the agency’s AML (Appropriate Management Level) of 28 to 46 animals for the Seven Troughs HMA (Herd Management Area). Trapping also took place in the Selemite HA (Herd Area) outside Empire according to the BLM Winnemucca District’s Wild Horse & Burro Specialist Samantha Gooch.

Excess wild burros cause damage to riparian areas, inadequate resources for wildlife and accidents as they cross roadways in search of food and water, according to the BLM.

“Vehicle collisions with wild burros have occurred on Highway 399 and burros have been spotted on Highway 447 south of Empire, Nevada as well as within the town of Empire,” states the BLM. “Resource damage around the Porter Springs Recreation Management Area has also been attributed to the overpopulation of wild burros.”

Animal advocates challenge the BLM’s population limits for wild horses and burros. Craig Downer, author of “The Wild Horse Conspiracy”, claims the animals are being scapegoated for public land damage and that they are being managed out of existence by the BLM. Downer attended a BLM-hosted tour of the Blue Wing Complex that includes the Seven Troughs HMA.

“Both AMLs are terribly unjust and, in my opinion, illegal. The AML for the wild burros, of which so few are left, is a sure set up for their inbreeding and die out,” Downer wrote. “To maintain that such a low population number is genetically viable is very misleading and makes a mockery of the true science of Conservation Biology, in my professional opinion as a wildlife ecologist.”

Neill confirmed that the only pinto burros he has seen are from the Seven Troughs HMA.

“The only HMA with pinto burros that I have seen them in has been the Seven Troughs but I don’t know if other states have them or not,” he said. “Most of them are the typical gray.”

For more information about adopting a wild burro or wild horse, contact Neill at 775-475-2222 or email him at jneill@blm.gov.