Wild horses are pursued by a contractor’s helicopter during last winter’s Sulphur Herd Management Area roundup in Utah. File photo by Steve Paige for RTF.

 

The Bureau of Land Management plans to use helicopter drive-trapping to capture and remove 100 wild horses from federal, state and private lands in and around the Bible Spring Complex near Minersville, Utah, Aug. 15-19.

The Bible Spring Complex is made up of the Bible Spring, Blawn Wash, Four Mile and Tilly Creek Herd Management Areas. Blawn Wash will not be included in the planned roundup.

BLM cites the number of wild horses horses competing with other wildlife, including elk and pronghorn, reduced water supply since the 2014 drought, the failure of perennial grasses to grow in some areas and about 94 wild horses living outside HMA boundaries as reasons for the roundup.

BLM plans to conduct roundups two to four times over a six-10 year period to reduce the number of wild horses to the low end of the agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” of 80-170 wild horses. If the agency reaches that number, fertility control vaccines will be used to reduce annual population growth.

The 223,000-acre complex is home to an estimated 619 wild horses, according to the BLM. The agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” is 80-170 horses.

By comparison, 3,044 cattle and 1,674 sheep graze seasonally within the four HMAs.

The Bible Spring Complex is located in Iron and Beaver Counties. In February, Beaver County officials sued the BLM, following a roundup at the Sulphur HMA after which BLM returned a portion of the wild horses to the range after mares were treated with fertility control vaccine. Beaver County contends that all “excess” wild horses should be removed. A U.S. attorney has asked a judge to throw out the case.

Captured wild horses will be offered for adoption. Those that are not adopted will be placed in long-term pastures, according to the agency.

Looming over the roundup is the ongoing threat of legislation in Congress that would allow BLM to shoot healthy unadopted wild horses and burros. For more information about that legislation and what you can do to take action, click here.

Public observation:

The BLM will escort observers at 5 a.m. daily from Maverik Adventure’s First Stop, 220 North Airport Road in Cedar City, Utah. Observers must provide their own transportation, food and water. Appropriate footwear, neutral-colored clothing, binoculars and four-wheel drive, high-clearance vehicles are recommended. Drones will not be permitted in the area. Details will be announced daily on a BLM gather hotline, (801) 539-4050.

For more information:

Click here to read the BLM’s Environmental Assessment and Decision documents.

Previously:

U.S. Attorney asks judge to toss Beaver County, Utah, suit over wild horse programs, June 29, 2017

Utah lawmakers set out to wrangle wild horses from BLM’s control – and possibly slaughter them for meat, Feb. 22, 2017

Beaver County, horse advocates sue the BLM in legal tug-of-war over Utah’s wild horses, Feb. 9, 2017