BLM set to capture, remove 200 Utah wild horses

A helicopter pursues a wild horse during a 2017 Sulphur Herd Management Area roundup. RTF file photo by Steve Paige.

Beginning Aug. 1, Bureau of Land Management plans to begin the capture and removal of 200 “excess” wild horses during a planned eight-day helicopter roundup at the Bible Springs Complex and Sulphur Herd Management Area in Utah.

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 quielty 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.

For BLM’s full tentative roundup calendar, click here.

Viewing the roundup

BLM will escort members of the public to viewing areas. Those interested in participating in a tour should meet at the Maverik Adventure’s First Stop Store located at 220 North Airport Road in Cedar City, Utah. Tours will depart at 5:30 a.m. Mountain Time. Gather and tour information will be announced daily on the Utah BLM gather hotline, (801) 539-4050.

BLM recommends appropriate footwear and neutral-colored clothing. Binoculars and four-wheel drive, high-clearance vehicles are also strongly recommended. Observers must provide their own transportation, water and food. No public restrooms are available.

Donate to RTF’s Wild Horse Defense Fund, which fuels our advocacy, lobbying, selective litigation and on-range monitoring of roundups