Sulphur roundup: Total wild horses captured nears 300

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A wild horse tumbles in the snow on Sunday while fleeing a helicopter. All photos by Steve Paige for RTF.

Update: Helicopter drive trapping was postponed on Monday due to windy conditions.

Thirteen wild horses were captured on Sunday during the ongoing roundup at the Sulphur Horse Management Area in Utah, with some horses falling in the snow while running from a Bureau of Land Management contractor’s helicopter.

While the BLM reported that none that fell appeared to have been injured, another wild horse may well have been:

On Sunday morning, a wild horse and contractor’s truck collided along Highway 21, about five to six miles outside of the Horse Management Area. The horse fled and has not been located, while no one was hurt inside the vehicle, which suffered “some damage” but remained functional, according to the agency.

Also on Sunday: 87 wild horses were transported to the Axtell Contract Off-Range Corrals.

A total of 291 wild horses have been captured since the roundup began on Jan. 18. No other injuries or deaths have been reported.

The Bureau of Land Management 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. 22: 

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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