By Interacting with burros is not only encouraged in Oatman, it’s why some people visit. But, Oatman is the only town where the wild animals should be meeting humans, however over the past year, burros have been making their way into Bullhead City and sometimes the interactions with local have been deadly for the burros. An exploding burro population is apparently to blame for the more frequent sightings of the hoofed animals on the Bullhead Parkway and Highway 68 in recent months. To address the problem, the BLM has initiated an environmental assessment to determine an appropriate management level and offer suggestions on what to do with the excess burros. The BLM oversees the Black Mountain Herd Management Area (BMHMA), which includes 1.1 million acres of land in Mohave County, stretching from Hoover Dam to Topock. Last year, the U.S. Geological Survey, at the behest of the BLM, measured the burro population in the BMHMA to be approximately 1,600 animals. That is more than three times the ‘appropriate management level’ that the BLM established in 1996 as part of the Black Mountain Ecosystem Plan. That plan suggests the BMHMA has enough natural resources to sustain a burro population of 478. Last year, Bullhead City officials reached out to the BLM for assistance in managing wild burros who were starting to make their homes closer to the city, especially along the Bullhead Parkway and Highway 68. Several burros were struck and killed by unsuspecting motorists who travel the parkway and Highway 68 at relatively high speeds. In a letter to the city this month, the BLM announces its plan to initiate an environmental assessment. Their initial stages have already revealed some considerations that will be studied as part of the assessment, but officials admit there has already been several negative impacts due to the burro population explosion. “Vegetation utilization data at some key study sites indicates heavy to severe utilization and resource damage,” BLM Field Manager Ruben A. Sanchez wrote. “There have been no trails of any type of fertility control on wild burros managed by the BLM. With current limitations on holding space, the BLM anticipates implementing trials with wild burros as funding allows.” Bullhead City manager Toby Cotter alerted city council-members of the BLM’s response and plans for the burro interactions in the city. “This is an issue of pretty significant concern to many in our community,” Cotter said. “We will continue to express our concerns about traffic, especially on the Parkway and Highway 68.” Cotter, along with former mayor Jack Hakim, met with BLM officials several times last year to address the burro’s interaction with humans in Bullhead City. Signs were placed along both roadways in an effort to alert motorists to the potential of having burros on the pavement. The most likely times for human interaction have always been before sunrise or just after sunset. The BMHMA is home to the largest herd of wild and free-roaming burros in the United States. They have thrived in the Tri-State area since the 1860s when they were introduced to the area by miners.
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