Anonymous grant given to improve lives of wild burros

Wild burros on the range
Wild burros on the range. © BLM

A large anonymous grant has enabled the Humane Society of the United States to set up a program to improve the lot of America’s wild burros.

The society has been able to launch “The Platero Project” thanks to an anonymous $US760,000 grant, which will be given over five years.

The Platero Project will promote the protection of wild burros managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

There are more than 20 officially designated herd management areas in five western states that are home to more than 5000 wild burros.

They are descended from the burros used by early settlers and miners in the 1800s.

The project aims to develop partnerships and programs to research the effectiveness of contraceptive vaccine on wild burro herds and to reduce the number of wild burros currently living in the bureau’s holding areas, by increasing adoptions and relocating difficult-to-place burros to sanctuaries.

The society says the project is financed by a donor who cares deeply about the humane treatment of burros, and it is named after the Spanish Nobel Laureate Juan Ramon Jimenez’s book about a faithful and friendly donkey named Platero.

Heidi Hopkins, The Platero Project manager for the society, said: “There are many challenges to the management of wild burro herds, and through innovation we can find a way forward that saves burros from suffering and saves tax dollars and agency resources.

“We are grateful for this generous donation that allows us to step up our work to protect and celebrate these animals.”

Over the past five years, the rate of wild burro adoptions through the bureau has drastically decreased, and more than 1300 burros remain in federal holding facilities in the western US.

The society plans to develop a training program for wild burros that aims to increase the number of burros adopted annually.

The immunocontraception vaccine commonly known as porcine zona pellucida (PZP) was registered by the Environmental Protection Agency to manage wild horse populations on the range last year, but it has not yet been used by the bureau on burros.

The Platero Project will assist in a long-term research project to determine the efficacy and cost-benefits of using PZP to manage wild burros on the range.

Increased use of PZP by the BLM could save taxpayers millions of dollars over the next decade while helping to maintain healthy wild horse and burro populations.

Latest research and information from the horse world.

4 thoughts on “Anonymous grant given to improve lives of wild burros

  • June 27, 2013 at 4:10 am

    The wild burro herds absolutely DO need help but the burros must to be protected as the law states they shall be. Over management to create zero population growth in the wild is insensitive to natural forces which will then create a negative population growth where foals will not be born to replace those burros that die of natural and environmental causes. They have no need of Porcine Zona Pellucide (PZP) interference and this dangerously low reproductive rate could be and likely will be catastrophic. This method will restrict the growth of the herd, but the long term indirect effect to the reproductive health and genetic viability and impact on the herds are scientifically uncertain. For HSUS and/or BLM to go forward with a massive PZP plan is nothing more than the future genetic destruction of wild burro herds. Wide spread PZP application to wild burros cannot lead to a scientifically acceptable population size for healthy reproducing herds and thus there can be no healthy wild burro herds for future generations. This massive application of PZP is completely unacceptable – per the law and per the wishes of the American people as well as the laws of nature. There are no “excess” wild burros on their congressionally designated legal land.

  • June 27, 2013 at 6:50 am

    This massive birth control program aimed at thwarting the burros natural reproduction in nature will only further undermine an already seriously compromised population of wild burros in America. This is totally contrary to the true intent of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. People should be learning how to share the land and freedom, not always opting for the “quick drug fix” as they do concerning so much in today’s world. They should do what’s right and decrease livestock and other interests in the wild burros legal areas, and employ the principles of Reserve Design to establish naturally self-stabilizing herds that are ecologically well adapted to each specific region and genetically viable in the long tern. Please contact me for information on Reserve Design and how it works and check it out in my book The Wild Horse Conspiracy at Amazon.

  • June 27, 2013 at 11:20 am

    There is no scientific validation to indicate that our Wild Burros are overpopulated. HOW to save what’s left of them is the problem:

    Here is a statement from a man OF science. HIs comment was posted in an article in HORSEBACK after the BLM Cibola-Trigo Wild Burro roundup last year:
    ROBERT C. BAUER, B.S. in Biology

    Robert C. Bauer

    It is clear from the unwarranted brutality exhibited by the security issued by the Bureau of Land Management at this roundup, that the BLM are fearful and desperately seeking to conceal its activities. This tells me that it knows the illegalities it is carrying out by continuing these roundups, illegalities which come in many forms. In truth, there is no overpopulation of wild horses and burros out on the range lands. Indeed, the numbers are dangerously low to the point that if the roundups continue at the rate that they are, there won’t be any left in the next couple of years. Overpopulation is an illusion that the BLM continually seeks to perpetuate in the eyes of the public and congress in order to justify an unneeded wild horse and burro program, and therefore continued roundups. This illusion is carried out in a variety of ways and the numbers of wild horses and burros that the BLM assures the public are out there, exist only on paper and not in reality. The BLM consistently ignore mortality rates which according to a National Academy of Sciences study can be anywhere between 14% to 50% just in the first year of a wild horses life and between 5% to 25% for those wild horses older than this. It also ignores sex ratios which are roughly 50/50 out on the range, meaning only 50% ,give or take, are females and are able to put a foal on the ground. The illusion continues by ignoring the aggressive use of PZP, meaning those mares that are issued this contraceptive, for the next two years, are unable to produce a foal, a foal that may be male or female, and if female, as a general rule, won’t be able to reproduce for a couple of years. Many other variables are conveniently hidden, whereby, when looking at the population increases of wild horses, increases that the BLM are adamant about, reproductive rates would have to be enormous,far beyond what is conceivably possible, in many cases, over 100%, if all of the above variables were factored in. This illusion of overpopulation, the BLM are aware of, and is something that is becoming more and more apparent to the public. Yet it is not just the concept of overpopulation that the public is aware of, but also the methods by which the BLM are perpetuating this lie. It is by virtue of this, and the BLM’s escalated fear and desperation of being exposed, that such brutality has erupted. Speaking as one who has witnessed first hand, many times, conditions and numbers of wild horses and burros out on the range lands, and has tested the alleged numbers of wild horses that the BLM claim are out there, it is clear that there is no need for a wild horse and burro program and there is no overpopulation. Contrary to these claims there is very much an underpopulation of wild horses, close to point of a complete elimination of these creatures. It can also be adamantly stated that virtually every horse and burro in the holding facilities, now above 50,000 could easily be released back into their legally designated areas, and it would have no negative impact on the land, not to mention, saving the taxpayer millions of dollars every year. In truth, releasing these wild ones back into the original areas from which they were taken, and halting once and for all the roundups, would help bring balance back to the range lands of the west. The wild horses and burros are just this, wild, and in the wild is where they belong, to exist in accordance to nature’s mechanisms, and not according to mankind’s egotistical attempts in seeking to maintain a ” thriving natural ecological balance”. Only as we leave them alone in the wild, according to nature’s mechanisms, will they live on as the beautiful yet vital component of ecological balance that is so desperately needed

  • June 27, 2013 at 4:55 pm
    Is it safe to use pesticides on an indigenous species?


    No proof of overpopulation, no need for native wild horse fertility control

    “With the gluttony of roundups and removals, wild horses reproduce at a higher rate to prevent extinction,” explains Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs. “We need more studies to establish what the normal reproduction rate is and discover truths about alleged overpopulation on the more than 30 million acres of public wildlands designated for their use. Today there is no scientific proof of overpopulation to merit fertility control.”
    Recently fertility control, in the form of immunocontraceptives for wild horses, was erroneously passed by the EPA as “restricted use pesticides”. The EPA inaccurately named indigenous wild horses “pests” in order to pass the drug. Pesticides (PZP, GonaCon®, etc.) should never be used on native species such as E. caballus.
    “PZP and other fertility control should not be used on non-viable herds either,” states Debbie Coffey, director of wild horse affairs at Wild Horse Freedom Federation. “Most of the remaining herds of wild horses are non-viable. The NAS and any advocacy groups that are pushing PZP and other fertility control have not carefully studied all of the caveats in Dr. Gus Cothran’s genetic analysis reports along with the remaining population of each herd of wild horses.”


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