Arizona has a wild burro problem. In fact, we have more wild burros than any other state in the country. Brought to Arizona in 1860’s by prospectors and then subsequently abandoned, these non-native species have rapidly reproduced to unsustainable levels. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) estimates that roughly 6,900 burros roam the western half of our state—over four times the maximum determined capacity of the lands.
This overpopulation harms local ecosystems through crowding out native flora and fauna and overgrazing of the land. As a result of overgrazing, many of the burros are now dying of starvation. Around populous areas, the burros have become a serious safety concern. In 2018, there were 21 reported accidents in Bullhead City alone involving burro fatalities resulting from one walking onto a highway.
These concerns are why, during an Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining hearing, I pushed Department of Interior officials to do everything they can to effectively manage population growth while ensuring the safety and humane treatment of these animals. While this issue is often lumped together with broader American wild horse discussions, I got BLM to commit to take into consideration the unique needs and characteristics of Arizona’s wild burro crisis when developing their management report—due to Congress this August.
Tackling this issue is critical to not only helping save these animals but to also ensure the public’s safety, and I will continue to work in the Senate to provide oversight of federal agencies to ensure proper management of these populations.