Sulphur roundup: 103 Utah wild horses captured

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Riders rope a foal separated from its family band during helicopter drive trapping on Saturday at the Sulphur Horse Management Area in Utah. All photos by humane observer Steve Paige for RTF.

The Bureau of Land Management on Saturday captured 103 wild horses from Utah’s Sulphur Horse Management Area, bringing to 278 the total that have been captured since the roundup began on Jan. 18, according to BLM.

Among those captured on Saturday: a paint that reportedly had eluded captors for years, including on Thursday.  The stud unusual for his coloration in an area known for black, dun and grullo wild horses was chased down by helicopter, then roped by riders who brought him into the trap (see photos 2-4 below).

Riders also roped stray foals separated from their family bands during helicopter trapping.

One stallion that escaped up a hill stopped and looked out at his family band in the trap. When one of his mares called out, he charged back down and made his way around the trap. Eventually, though, he gave up and fled up the mountain (see photos 5-8 below).

Also on Saturday: 75 wild horses were transported to the Axtell Contract Off-Range Corrals. The BLM has reported no injuries or deaths during the roundup, so far.

The agency plans to capture about 700 wild horses between now and Jan. 31 from the area about 50 miles west of Milford, Utah.

About 300 of the young wild horses will be permanently separated from their family bands and put up for adoption. The unadopted will be moved to long-term holding facilities, according to the agency.

About 400 of the older wild horses will be re-released, including 100 to 150 mares treated with the fertility control vaccine PZP-22.

The roundup is part of a BLM plan to reduce the Sulphur HMA’s population to an Appropriate Management Level of 165 wild horses over a six- to 10-year period. In March 2016, the wild horse population on the 265,675-acre HMA was estimated at 957 head.

The BLM also justifies roundups near State Highway 21 as being conducted for public safety reasons. None of the wild horses captured during the first two days will be among those released because they were captured near the highway. There is a proposal to install a fence there, but it’s unlikely to go up sooner than next month.

Photos from Jan. 21: 

How to attend:

Members of the public who wish to view the roundup should call the BLM’s gather hotline at (801) 539-4050 for daily updates.

Participants must provide their own transportation, water and food.

The BLM recommends footwear and clothing suitable for harsh winter weather. Binoculars and four-wheel drive, high clearance vehicles are also strongly recommended. No public restrooms will be available once the tour begins.

You can help:

Please consider a contribution to the Wild Horse Defense Fund, which makes it possible for Return to Freedom to have humane observers on the ground at roundups. Having an active voice has proven valuable for holding BLM and contractors accountable for the humane handling of wild horses, pressing for improvements to humane standards, and educating policymakers and the public about how tax dollars are being used.

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