Sulphur roundup: 47 wild horses captured, four euthanized

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A helicopter pursues a wild horse at the Sulphur Horse Management Area on Friday. All photos by Steve Paige.

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

A total of 546 wild horses have now been captured since Jan. 18.

According to BLM, horses were euthanized for the following reasons:

  • a 5 year-old dun mare with a body score of 2 on a 10-point scale was euthanized due to its weak condition and poor prognosis for improvement;
  • a 20 year-old grulla stud with a body score of 2 was euthanized due to poor prognosis for improvement;
  • a 15 year-old bay stud was euthanized due to blindness and “dangerous characteristics”;
  • a 5 year-old sorrel stud was euthanized due to blindness.

Ten wild horses are known to have died since the roundup began. Of those, nine have been euthanized, while one broke its neck while trying to escape the trap.

On Friday, wild horses continued to stumble and fall in the snow, but the BLM reported no injuries. Four horses were roped and led into the trap. Forty-seven wild horses were taken to the Axtell Contract Off-Range Corrals.

The BLM plans to capture about 700 wild horses from the Horse Management Area 50 miles west of Milford, Utah, by Jan. 31.

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. 27:

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.