Time change increases road danger for burros, horses

The Bureau of Land Management is warning motorists to watch out for burros on the roads around Red Rock Canyon, as the end of daylight saving time can lead to a spike in deadly collisions.

Two burros have been hit and killed since September, one on state Route 159 through Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and the other on a nearby section of state Route 160, the road to Pahrump.

Collisions and close calls tend to increase this time of year because it gets dark around the time commuters are headed home, making wild burros and horses harder to see.

“Some of the burros are dark brown, and their eyes just don’t reflect the same way a deer’s will,” said Krystal Johnson, wild horse and burro specialist for the bureau’s Southern Nevada region.

To make matters worse, some burros have learned to linger near the highway — and even approach vehicles — because people stop on the side of the road to feed them. The animals can become so accustomed to human handouts they scarcely bother to forage for food the natural way anymore.

Johnson said about 60 burros live in Red Rock Canyon near Spring Mountain Ranch State park and the tiny town of Blue Diamond. That’s a higher population than the appropriate management level BLM has set for the area, but Johnson said there are no plans to round up any animals.

In 2012, 27 so-called “nuisance burros” were collected in and around Blue Diamond and put up for adoption. Before that, the BLM hadn’t conducted a burro roundup in Red Rock Canyon for about five years.

At least 17 burros have been struck and 15 of them killed along routes 159 and 160 since 2010. Though no statistics were readily available, it is not unheard of for motorists to be injured or killed in collisions with horses or burros.

Contact Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350. Find him on Twitter: @RefriedBrean.

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