Sulphur Complex (Utah) update: Totals reach 350 captured, 8 killed

/ In The News, News, Roundups

A contractor’s helicopter pursues wild horses during trapping on the Sulphur Herd Management Area in 2017. RTF file photo.

The Bureau of Land Management captured 109 wild horses between Friday and Sunday, the fourth through sixth days of a planned 376-horse helicopter roundup on the Sulphur Herd Management Area in Utah.

Six wild horses were put down during the same three-day span: a 20-year-old dun mare with “a large abscess on her chest … with low to no prognosis of recovery,” a 7-year-old grulla stud with clubfoot, a 3-year-old grulla stud with bad knees on both front legs, a 12-year-old dun mare lame on her left hind leg, and a 9-year-old sorrel mare and 17-year-old grulla stud that were both blind in one eye, according to BLM’s gather report.

A total of 350 wild horses have been captured, so far. Two other wild horses have died, both after suffering broken bones during sorting at the trap site, for a total of eight killed, so far.

The BLM plans to capture about 376 wild horses over a period of up to 20 days, removing 326 horses from their home range and treating and releasing about 50 mares with GonaCon fertility control.

Return to Freedom strongly supports the use of reversible fertility control as a tool to halt roundups. However, we will always support the use of PZP over GonaCon. PZP has been studied and proven safe, effective, and humane over the longest period of time and in the greatest number of horses, including, importantly, the greatest number of horses in free-roaming situations.

Because GonaCon interrupts the hormone cascade, it may cause other behavioral changes that would affect herd dynamics. As such, RTF would like to see more studies to ensure that GonaCon meets the parameters of ethical and thoughtful wildlife fertility control.

The 265,675-acre Sulphur HMA, sometimes called the Sulphur Springs Herd Management Area, is located in Iron, Beaver and Millard counties, about 50 miles west of Minersville, Utah, in the Mountain Home and Indian Peak mountain ranges.

The BLM estimates the current population of wild horses there at about 600. The agency-set “Appropriate Management Level (AML)” is 165 to 250 wild horses, or as low as one horse for every 1,610 acres.

By comparison, BLM allows up to 26,365 Animal Unit Months of seasonal cattle and sheep grazing in or around the Herd Management Area, the annual equivalent of 2,197 cow-calf pairs (an AUM is defined as the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month).

The Sulphur HMA wild horses are among the few herds with Colonial Spanish origins, based on phenotype and blood-typing. Many have distinctive dorsal and leg striping. RTF’s American Wild Horse Sanctuary is home to two family bands of Sulphur Springs horses.

Click here to read BLM’s planning documents.

Viewing the roundup

Members of the public who wish to view daily roundup operations should call the BLM gather hotline each evening at (801) 539-4050. Observers must provide their own transportation, water and food. No restrooms are available. The BLM recommends weather-appropriate footwear, neutral-colored clothing and binoculars. Four-wheel drive or other high-clearance vehicles are strongly recommended because of possible snowy and muddy conditions. Social distancing will be observed and observers are asked to bring hand sanitizer. Those who are not feeling well or who have recently been exposed to someone with COVID-19 should not attend.

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