BLM Burro Herds

Alamo HMA

Left alone in this remote region with few natural predators, the wild burro population here flourished to more than 1,000 animals by the mid-1970s. The first wild burro capture effort by the BLM in Arizona took place near Alamo Lake. In 1977, and again in 1979, nearly 900 animals were removed from this HMA, lowering the population to about 200. Today, the burro population is estimated to be about 550.

Location: The Alamo Herd Management Area (HMA) lies in west central Arizona on lands adjoining Alamo Lake and portions of the Bill Williams, Santa Maria and Big Sandy rivers. This HMA can be reached by driving west from Wickenburg on U.S. Highway 60 (about 50 miles toward Wenden) and then north 30 miles on a paved county road toward Alamo Lake State Park.

Size: The Alamo HMA encompasses around 341,000 acres. It is bordered on the north by the Big Sandy HMA and on the west by the Havasu HMA.

Topography/Vegetation: Wild burros roam freely throughout this area, which is largely steep, rock and rugged. The lower areas contain gentle slopes cut with broad sandy washes. Sonoran Desert vegetation, including paloverde and ironwood trees, grow among the washes. Summers are hot with temperatures occasionally exceeding 120 degrees.

Wildlife: Wild burros share this habitat with desert bighorn sheep, desert mule deer, coyotes, fox, jackrabbits and a variety of small desert mammals. Other animals making their homes here include the desert tortoise and several species of lizards and rattlesnakes. Bald eagles and southwestern willow flycatchers can be spotted in the sky.

AML:  128-160

Big Sandy HMA

Wild burros living in the Big Sandy HMA today are typically gray, though some may be brown, pink, or black. These animals weigh between 450 and 500 pounds and average 44 inches in height at the shoulder when fully grown. The burros generally inhabit the lower areas of the region, preferring river bottom areas.  The current population is estimated to be about 1,000.

Location: The Big Sandy Herd Management Area (HMA) is in west central Arizona, 55 miles southeast of Kingman on either side of U.S. Highway 93. The HMA includes the areas of the Big Sandy River Valley south of Wikieup to Alamo Lake, Burro Creek to the confluence of Boulder Creek and west through the southern foothills of the Hualapai Mountains.

Size: The Big Sandy HMA encompasses almost 244,000 acres.

Topography/Vegetation: Vegetation includes plants typical to Arizona’s interior chaparral, grasslands and lower Sonoran Desert shrub communities. The waters of the Big Sandy River flow lazily into a valley between the Hualapai Mountains on the west and the Aquarius Mountains on the east. The HMA is known for its narrow river beds resting in broad valley troughs, deep gorges and sheer cliffs. The uplands are made up of sloping alluvial fans, dissected by sandy washes. The climate is generally warm, windy and dry with highs exceeding 120 degrees and lows approaching a freezing 30 degrees. The area rainfall averages between 7 and 14 inches annually, falling as intense thunderstorms in late summer and gentle wind-spread rain in the winter months.

Wildlife: Wild burros share this habitat with desert bighorn sheep, desert mule deer, quail, hares, and a variety of small desert mammals.

AML:  111-139

Black Mountain HMA

Descendants of burros brought by miners and prospectors from the early 1860s. These burros are of North African Ancestry.

Location: The Black Mountain Herd Management Area (HMA) is in extreme northwestern Arizona, 15 miles west of Kingman. The area parallels the eastern shoreline of the Colorado River for 80 miles, from Hoover Dam south to the Needles Bridge in California. The historic gold mining town of Oatman lies in the center of the southern half of the HMA, along Historic Route 66.

Size: Black Mountain is the largest HMA in Arizona, with about 1.1 million acres of Mojave Desert shrub and Grand Canyon desert shrub.

Topography/Vegetation: This region is volcanic in origin, resulting in an area that is characterized by large mesas, steep cliffs, slopes, rocky foothills, alluvial fans and sandy washes. The climate is hot, windy and dry, with summertime temperatures exceeding 120 degrees. The winter lows can be 25 degrees. Along the Colorado River, the area receives an average rainfall of three inches. But, at the higher peaks, the soil drinks in up to 12 inches of rain annually.

Wildlife: There are three wilderness areas within the Black Mountain HMA boundaries. Combined with its rugged topography, a wide variety of animals live here year round. In fact, the mountains are home to the largest herd of desert bighorn sheep on public lands in the nation.

AML:  382-478

Cerbat Mountains HMA

The Cerbat HA is one of two wild horse HAs in Arizona. There are several popular beliefs concerning the origin of this particular herd. One theory is that the Cerbats are descendants of Spanish mustangs, introduced as early as the 1500s. A second theory is that these horses escaped from early explorers in the 1700s. Yet another belief is that the horses were abandoned by livestock ranchers in the early 1800s. Though the horses do typically show some signs of Spanish descent, their exact origin remains a matter of speculation by scientists. Regardless, this herd is protected by law. About 70 wild horses roam the Cerbat HA. The population is relatively stable. It is believed that the high density of mountain lions roaming within the HA keeps the wild horse population from growing rapidly. The body size of a Cerbat horse is usually small, with an average weight of between 750 and 800 pounds and an average height of 14 to 16 hands (56 to 64 inches). The horses are predominately bays, with numerous red, strawberry and blue roans. Other colors include gray, black, sorrel, and dun.

Location: The Cerbat Herd Area (HA) starts five miles north of Kingman in the northwestern portion of the state. The HA lies east of U.S. Highway 93 and west of Stockton Hill Road. The historic mining town of Chloride sits at the western base of the HA.

Size: The Cerbat HA consists of 83,000 acres of Arizona interior chaparral grassland and Grand Canyon desert shrub.

Topography/Vegetation: The most notable and definitely hard to miss feature of the region are the Cerbat Mountains, with the associated peaks, ridges and canyons. The mountains run in a general northwest to southeast direction and are flanked by Sacramento Valley to the west and Hualapai Valley to the east. At an elevation of nearly 7,000 feet, Cherum Peak is the prominent landmark within the HA and is also the heart of the wild horse use area. The climate is generally warm, dry, and windy. Because the HA varies in elevation from 3,400 feet to 7,000 feet, temperatures and rainfall also vary. The thermometer can read 105 degrees in the summer and drop to 0 degrees in the winter.

Wildlife: A number of wildife species, some of which include desert bighorn sheep, desert mule deer, coyotes, and mountain lions, share the  herd area habitat.  

AML:  72-90

Cibola-Trigo HMA

Approximately 90% of the Wild Burros are gray with the remaining 10% being black, brown, white, pinto, or piebald. Some posses the shoulder cross characteristics of the ancestral Nubian and Somali wild asses and many have the leg barring associated with the Nubian Wild Ass.  The mean shoulder height of adult burros in 48 inches (12 hands) and the mean weight is approximately 350 pounds. There are approximately 120 Wild Horses in the C-T HMA. There are two small herds scattered throughout the area, the Gould Wash Herd and the Castle Dome Wash Herd.  The Gould Wash Herd has between 60-75 animals (areal reconnaissance). This heard predominately roams on BLM administered lands with some use on the Yuma Proving Grounds (YPG). Their primary food source comes from the desert washes and mountainous areas. There horses are large; standing between 15-16 hands high (60-64 inches) and weighing between 800 to 1,000 pounds. Colors include are mostly bay and black but dun, pinto, and appaloosa also occurs in this herd.  The Castle Dome Wash Herd has between 50-60 animals. This herd predominately roams on YPG with a little use on BLM and Imperial National Wildlife Refuge lands. Their primary food source comes from the desert washes and sand dunes. These horses come in a variety of sizes and colors.  Some have mustang characteristics, but most have breeding that show appaloosa and quarter horse characteristics.  

Location: The Cibola-Trigo (C-T) HMA is located in the Southwest corner of Arizona and SouthEast Corner of California. Important communities near the CT HMA are Yuma and Quartzsite in AZ and Blythe and Palo Verde in California. Major Physical features are: Colorado River, Cibola Lake, Cibola Valley, Trigo Mountains, Chocolate Mountains and the Laguna Mountains. The C-T HMA encompasses approximately 179,000 acres.

Size: HMA:179,000; HA: 263,700

Havasu HMA

Burros evolved in the deserts of North Africa and adapted very well to the desert environment of the Havasu HMA. Left alone in this remote region with few natural predators, the wild burro population thrived. Today, the population is estimated to be 178 animals, with about half living within the Arizona portion of the HMA. About 90 percent of the burros are gray, with the remaining 10 percent black, brown, white pinto or piebald. Some burros possess the shoulder cross characteristic of the ancestral Nubian wild ass, and many have leg barrings associated with the Somali wild ass. Adult burros average 48 inches in height and weigh about 350 pounds. During the summer months, the burros concentrate, generally within a mile or so of major water sources. During cooler months, the animals move into the mountains and scatter throughout the region.

Location: The Havasu Herd Management Area (HMA) is south of Lake Havasu City along the Colorado and Bill Williams rivers. The HMA includes land on both sides of the Colorado River. The HMA is adjacent to the Chemeheuvi HMA Area in California.

Size: The Havasu HMA contains 450,790 acres of Lower Colorado Sonoran Desert. In Arizona, the HMA measures 372,570 acres, while the California portion encompasses 78,220 acres.

Topography/Vegetation: The wild burros living within the Havasu HMA roam freely throughout the entire area, which is characterized by arroyo-scarred alluvial fans and steep, rocky volcanic mountains. There are four major vegetation communities found within the HMA. These are open hills covered with creosote bush; primary and secondary washes known for their paloverde and burro bush; and, secondary washes made up primarily of paloverde and creosote. Summer temperatures are hot, with the thermometer sometimes rising above 125 degrees. The area has 100 days per year of 100-degree temperatures.

Wildlife: Wild burros share this habitat with desert bighorn sheep and desert mule deer. Other animals in the area include small mammals, desert tortoise, several species of rattle snake, a variety of bird such as the southwestern willow flycatcher, lizards and amphibians.

AML:  133-166

Lake Pleasant HMA

Approximately 90% of the wild burros are gray with the remaining 10% being black, brown, tan and red.  Some posses the shoulder cross characteristic of the ancestral Nubian and Somali wild asses and many have the leg stripes associated with the Nubian Wild Ass.  The average height of an adult burro is 48 inches (12 hands), the average weight about 350 pounds.   Wild burros are and may appear docile but should never be approached or fed.

Location: The Lake Pleasant Herd Management Area (HMA) is 25 miles northwest of  Phoenix. It is west of Interstate Highway 17 and north of State Highway 74 and northeast of Lake Pleasant.

Size: The HMA is 103,000 acres in the Sonoran Desert

Topography/Vegetation: The area's rugged mountains, numerous small canyons and open rolling hills cut across the HMA landscape. The vegetation is typical of the upper Sonoran Desert, where paloverde and mixed cacti are common.

Wildlife: Wildlife species sharing the region with the wild burros include desert mule deer, javalina and mountain lions.  Other animals found here are small mammals, songbirds, amphibians and reptiles.

AML:  166-208