June 7, 2012

BLM burro roundup in Arizona starts amid criticism

By FOX 10 News - Staff Report

YUMA, Ariz. - The Bureau of Land Management is conducting a burro roundup in southern Arizona despite objections from animal advocates as well as a congressman.

BLM spokeswoman Deborah Stevens said the agency started a two-week roundup Wednesday of 350 wild Arizona burros in the Yuma desert.

The roundups are done using a helicopter. In a video of a roundup that took place in southern Arizona, a burro was chased in circles and even knocked over at one point.

The BLM says there's a good reason for this -- overgrazing is preventing the regrowth of vegetation. Some are calling it abuse.

"It is everything that I have in me to watch animal abuse. For the BLM to claim there is no abuse. You actually see the skids of the helicopter and exhausted confused tired burro. This is very very upsetting," said Julianne French.

Rep. Raul Grijalva and animal preservation groups have criticized the BLM for not postponing the roundup. They say roundup activity should stop at 90 degrees because of possible dehydration and other dangers.

Stevens says workers will cease the operation if temperatures rise above 95 degrees. She says a safety officer will monitor the temperature on an hourly basis. There will also be a veterinarian on site.

Stevens says the BLM believes it can gather the burros humanely and will stop if they are in stress.