Mohave County burro message headed to Washington, D.C.

Replacement for County Recorder named; county's public defender protests his ouster

KINGMAN - Mohave County Supervisors Steve Moss and Hildy Angius will travel to Washington next week and hand-deliver a resolution calling on the BLM to reduce the burro population in the Black Mountain Management Area.

The Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 Tuesday to write a letter signed by Chairwoman Jean Bishop in support of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, which has its own resolution about bringing the population down to 478, in accordance with appropriate management levels.

Moss, who placed the item on the board's agenda in January, has previously stated that it was never his intention to reduce the population by issuing hunting permits, though that was part of his original proposal.

His primary objective is to compel the Bureau of Land Management to bring the burro population from its current estimate of 1,800 to a more manageable 478.

The burros are not indigenous to the desert, and compete with other wildlife for precious food and water resources. They've also caused 36 traffic accidents in Bullhead City, and are becoming a public safety hazard, Moss explained.

"It's not just Bullhead City. It's all along the Colorado River, north of Lake Havasu into La Paz and Yuma counties," the supervisor said.

Angius said the county should bring its resolution in line with that of Arizona Game and Fish, which is a county partner and will have representatives at next week's meeting with U.S. Sen. John McCain.

Supervisor Gary Watson wanted to know if a separate resolution was needed for possible litigation against the BLM, which was also part of Moss's original proposal. Angius said litigation is a last resort in the Game and Fish resolution.

Watson said he's also concerned about the population beyond the Black Mountains. Burros are hidden to the east of Kingman, and they're becoming more of a nuisance in riparian areas, he said.

"The problem I have is we're talking about burros in the city limits of Bullhead City, but they're okay in Oatman," Supervisor Buster Johnson said. "More people are attacked by burros in Oatman than we've had car wrecks. It's okay in Oatman, but not the rest of the county. How do we have it both ways?"

Angius responded that it gets back to a manageable population. A lot of burros in Oatman were born and raised there, and are much tamer than wild burros, she noted.

In other board action Tuesday:

• The board voted 5-0 to renew the contract with Humane Society of Western Arizona to operate the Kingman animal shelter for another year. The current contract expires June 30.

Annie Newton-Fruhwirth, procurement director, said the amount of the contract was increased from $200,000 to $260,000 last year, and there is no increase in the amended contract. She said the Humane Society was the only respondent to a request for bids to operate the shelter.

• The board voted 4-1 (Johnson opposed) to approve the 2016 Housing and Community Development Needs and gave top priority to a veterans home operated by Westcare in Lake Havasu City for CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) projects. Secondary priority is given to owner-occupant housing assistance for low-income households.

• The board voted 5-0 to support and sign on to the Free the Lands Coalition letter calling on Congress to pass legislation and coordinate in good faith the transition of ownership of all federally controlled public lands to willing states for local management.

• The board voted 3-2 (Angius, Moss opposed) to appoint Robert Ballard to fill the vacancy created by the recent death of Mohave County Recorder Carol Meier.

Angius and Moss said they weren't opposed to the appointment, but to the process. Angius said it was the first time she'd heard Ballard's name, and she had a problem that it was already decided in Kingman.

Moss said the county should give everyone who's interested in the elected position an opportunity to "throw their hat in the ring." Ballard said he wouldn't run for election.

His only concern is that he continues to be employed under the next recorder.