Supervisors continue to wrestle with burro issue

A burro stands in the road in Oatman in January 2011. While popular with the tourists, burros are not native to the area and compete with wildlife that is. (JC AMBERLYN/Miner)

A burro stands in the road in Oatman in January 2011. While popular with the tourists, burros are not native to the area and compete with wildlife that is. (JC AMBERLYN/Miner)

KINGMAN - The overpopulation of burros in the Black Mountain management area will highlight the regular agenda of the Mohave County Board of Supervisors when it meets at 9:30 a.m. today at the County Administrative Building, 700 W. Beale St.

The board normally meets the first and third Monday of each month, but Monday was President's Day.

Anyone wishing to address the board during the public comment period must fill out a request form prior to the meeting.

The burro issue was continued from the supervisor's Jan. 19 meeting, when Supervisor Steve Moss proposed a resolution asking the Legislature to authorize state agencies to issue hunting permits to bring the burro population within acceptable limits.

Moss said it was never his intention to actually kill the animals that have become a tourist attraction in Oatman, but he wanted to get the attention of the BLM, which is responsible for managing the herd.

He also wants to pursue litigation to compel the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to comply with its plan to keep the Black Mountain burro population at 478.

The board held a special workshop on Feb. 8 and heard a presentation from Pat Barber, divisional director of Arizona Fish and Game, who estimated the current population at more than 1,700. He said the burros have a "significant negative impact" on desert wildlife, and that the BLM has become "paralyzed" in its herd management efforts.

The BLM's adoption program and other plans to curb the burro population are inadequate, Moss and other BLM critics said.

In the BLM's 1981 herd management plan, the burro population was set at an appropriate management level of 400. In 1996, under the Black Mountain Ecosystem Management Plan, the number increased to 478.

The burros are not indigenous to the desert. They were brought here by mining prospectors in the late 1800s, and they compete with other wildlife such as the bighorn sheep, mule deer, Gambel's quail and migratory birds for food and water sources.

Burros are encroaching on local roadways and residential developments, creating traffic and public safety hazards. Bullhead City Mayor Tom Brady said police have responded to 36 burro-related traffic accidents in the city limits since December 2012, along with other incidents outside the city limits.

State and local agencies are prohibited from managing the local burro population, despite being tasked with protecting public safety.

In other items on the supervisors' agenda:

• Discuss Mohave County's contract with the Kingman animal shelter, which expires June 30.

• Identify and approve funding for architectural services for the Mohave County Superior Court building construction and historic courthouse remodel project.

• Supporting and signing on to the Free The Lands Coalition calling on Congress to initiate and pass legislation and coordinate in good faith the transition of ownership of willing states of all federal controlled, multiple use public lands for local care and management.

• Fill the vacancy created by the death of Mohave County Recorder Carol Meier, who served the county for nearly 25 years; appoint a qualified Republican resident to fill the recorder's position until a person is elected at the next regular general election to fill the remainder of the unexpired term.