More federal managers than citizens showed up to a public hearing on Utah's first wild burro roundup and two for wild horses. The roundups are scheduled in June.
Two citizens and one reporter attended the public hearing Wednesday night at the Bureau of Land Management's state office, 324 S. State. Six BLM managers attended the hearing to field questions on the once-controversial measure.The plan is for the BLM to let out contracts next month for horse roundups in Skull Valley and Conger Mountain near Richfield and for Utah's first burro roundup, in the San Rafael Swell. More than 100 horses and 30 burros will be taken to a federal holding facility in Delta to await adoption.
The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971 mandates federal agencies to protect, manage and control the animals, and requires public hearings on any plans to remove the beasts, which landowners consider pests.
"This isn't anything new we're doing, using helicopters or motor vehicles" to remove the animals from federal lands, said Larry Maxfield, who handles the BLM's wild horse and burro program in Utah. "We've been doing it since 1976."
Choppers are used to herd the animals into corrals and the animals are then taken by truck to the holding facility. From there, satellite and live auctions are held to show prospective buyers the horses and burros.
Animals not adopted are sent to one of six federal holding facility in the West to be broken, or to a sanctuary in South Dakota.
The BLM, using established criteria for how much forage the land holds for wild animals, horses and burros and livestock, set levels for how much food is available.
"The act provides we should maintain the herds where they're at when the act was passed," said Maxfield.
In the Cedar Mountains of Tooele County 50 horses will be removed, said Sheldon Wimmer with the BLM's Salt Lake District office.
The Conger Mountain horse herd is 150 animals over the acceptable management level, said Dave Henderson, Warm Springs Resource Area manager in Fillmore. Sixty horses will be removed.
The situation is same in the San Rafael Swell, south of I-70 and about 30 miles west of Green River, said John Shiver, Moab district wild horse and burro specialist. Thirty burros will be moved while an inventory is done to determine how bad overpopulation is in the slickrock area the animals call home.
Comments on the proposals can be sent during the next 30 days to the BLM's Salt Lake District, Moab District or Richfield District.