YUMA, Ariz. — Federal land management officials are rounding up wild burros and horses from desert areas near Yuma to address overpopulation problems.

The Yuma office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is holding what it calls an “emergency gather” of the free-roaming animals. The U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground requested the roundup, citing an increase in crashes or near-misses between cars and wild burros or horses. The equines have also wandered into fields and ruined crops, The Yuma Sun reported (http://bit.ly/2bTtolC ).

Rapid breeding allows the herds to grow by 15 to 18 percent each year.

BLM Rangeland Management Specialist John Hall says the office has so far captured 34 burros and 31 horses. He said the horse roundup has been contracted out, but Hall is handling the burros himself. He estimated that 600 to 700 burros roam in a million-acre region called Cibola-Trigo Herd Management area, which covers most of the land between the Colorado River and Highway 95 from Imperial Dam in the south to Interstate 10 in the north.

“They get used to going in and out of (the traps) already. What’s happened is we’ve caught the easy ones, we’ve caught the ones that will go in immediately. Now we’re down to the four or five animals that are more difficult to catch,” said Hall. “So it takes a little more time and a lot more patience.”

The captured animals will be trained and most will be adopted.

“Nationwide, it’s easier to adopt out burros than wild horses,” said John MacDonald, manager of the BLM’s Yuma field office. “No. 1, I think is they’re cuter. Two, you can put them in your backyard where you can’t do that with a horse. Around here people can use them for packing or hiking.”


Information from: The Sun, http://www.yumasun.com