Eight mares, seven stallions and seven foals were captured on Wednesday on the planned eighth and final day of the Bureau of Land Management’s helicopter roundup at Bible Springs Complex / Sulphur Herd Management Areas in Utah.
In all, 250 wild horses lost their freedom — well over the 200 “excess” wild horses BLM set out to remove — over the course of the roundup. Four stallions were put down for what BLM says were pre-existing conditions: blindness, a club foot, a badly healed broken shoulder, and previous injury to nasal passages that made a stud’s breathing difficult.
The 21 wild horses captured on Wednesday outside the Four Mile Herd Management Area, part of the Bible Springs Complex, had body scores of 5 (moderate) or 4 (moderately thin) on a 10-point scale, according to BLM’s gather report.
Horses removed from the range will be transported to the BLM contract facility in Axtell, Utah, where they will be prepared for adoption or sale.
The roundup comes just days after the recent revelation that BLM quietly changed its sale policy in May to allow buyers to purchase 24 wild horses per day, with no waiting period and no questions asked, opening the door to kill buyers.
The 223,000-acre Bible Springs complex encompasses the Blawn Wash, Four Mile, Bible Springs, and Tilly Creek Herd Management Areas. It is home to an estimated 420 wild horses, not counting this year’s crop of foals, according to the BLM. The agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” is 80-170 horses for the four HMAs, or as low as one horse for every 2,788 acres.
By comparison, 16 livestock grazing allotments have at least some portion within the Bible Springs complex totaling 14,873 cattle Animal Unit Months and 2,474 sheep AUM (one AUM is the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep per month).
The 267,208-acre Sulphur Herd Management Area is home to an estimated 974 wild horses. The BLM-set “Appropriate Management Level” is 165-250, or as low as one horse for every 1,619 acres.
By comparison, permitted livestock use is 17,076 AUM for cattle and 8,355 for sheep on nine allotments that have some portion within the Sulphur HMA.
In 2017, 655 Sulphur wild horses were captured and 30 died during a helicopter roundup. Of those, 192 old horses were returned to the range, including 80 mares treated with the fertility control vaccine PZP-22.
Both the Sulphur HMA and Bible Springs complex are partly in Beaver County, Utah. In February 2017, the county sued BLM for returning any wild horses to the range. On Oct. 7, 2017, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups dismissed without prejudice a suit by Beaver County, Utah, against the U.S. Department of the Interior seeking immediate removal of wild horses there.
Earlier this month, Beaver County filed another amended complaint in its effort to compel BLM to remove wild horses from the Sulphur HMA.