September 6, 2009

Burro traps go up in Fort Irwin area this week

Burro trap.

The Press-Enterprise

The federal Bureau of Land Management this week will begin trapping wild burros at a spring near Fort Irwin used by an array of wildlife.

BLM officials said they expect to capture 30 to 40 burros at Owl Hole Spring, located about 40 miles northwest of Baker on a strip of public land between Fort Irwin Army training center and Death Valley National Park.

BLM wranglers will use what they call a "water bait trap."

It consists of temporary steel-pipe fencing set up around the spring. Burros, lured by hay and water, are expected to enter the trap through a "trigger gate" that doesn't let them out. The trap will be checked daily and captured burros will be taken to BLM corrals near Ridgecrest to be put up for adoption, BLM spokesman David Briery said.

The trapping is part of a larger effort to remove burros that stray onto Fort Irwin and into the national park. Helicopters will be used later this month to round up an estimated 160 burros in the Slate Range east of Death Valley and the Chemehuevi area near Needles.

Burro advocates say the animals are harmless and should be left alone. Instead of rounding them up, the BLM should take water to them, said Linda Lee, of Costa Mesa. The roundups injure animals and the adoptions break up burro families, leaving them depressed, she said.

Burros have roamed California deserts since miners used them in the region more than 150 years ago. Federal land-use plans dating to the 1980s call for no burros in Death Valley and BLM-managed land west of the park.

Ileene Anderson, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity, said Friday she supports the roundups because burros drink scarce water and foul sources with their manure. The water is needed by bighorn sheep, deer and other wildlife, she said.