Sulphur roundup: 43 Utah wild horses captured, two euthanized

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Contractors lead a roped foal into the trap at the Sulphur Horse Management Area. All photos by Steve Paige.

Forty-three wild horses were captured and two euthanized on Wednesday during the ongoing Bureau of Land Management helicopter roundup at the Sulphur Horse Management Area in Utah.

A 17-year-old dun stud was euthanized due to a large tumor in his right testicle, according to BLM, as was a red dun mare with a body condition of 2.0 and a “poor prognosis of improvement” (to see a .pdf of the 10-point body condition scale, please click here).

They were the third and fourth wild horses known to have died during the roundup: On Tuesday, a three-year-old stud broke his neck while trying to escape the trap while a 17-year-old mare with a body condition of 1.5 was euthanized, according to BLM. On Sunday, about five to six miles away from the trap site along State Highway 21, a contractor’s truck collided with a wild horse on that has not been located.

A total of 444 wild horses have been captured since Jan. 18. Among those captured on Wednesday were two studs that were each blind in one eye. They were to be evaluated by the on-site veterinarian on Thursday, according to RTF humane observer Steve Paige.

The Bureau of Land Management plans to capture about 700 wild horses between now and Jan. 31 from the Sulphur HMA, which is located 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. Those not adopted 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. 25: 

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.