Vermillion Cliffs--Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
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Cedar City Field Office

BLM Wild Horse & Burro Program LogoSulphur Wild Horse Gather

Began on Monday, December 13, 2010


Goal of Roundup:

The BLM plans to gather approximately 250 wild horses from the Sulphur HMA beginning December 13, 2010. The majority of these horses, approximately 220 animals, will be released back to the range following the gather. Of these, about 90 would be mares vaccinated with a fertility control vaccine to slow population growth. The Sulphur HMA covers approximately 265,676 acres of public, state and private lands, located in Beaver, Iron, and Millard counties. The AML for the HMA is 165 to 250 wild horses. The current estimated population of wild horses within the Sulphur HMA is 276. Horses gathered from the Sulphur HMA will be shipped to the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison.  

Details of the Roundup: 

Members of the public are welcome to view operations once they begin. The BLM is planning to provide public observation of gather operations daily so long as the safety of the animals, staff, and observers is not jeopardized and operations are not disrupted. Those interested in participating in an escorted tour must meet at 6:00 a.m. MST at the Border Inn located in Baker, NV on the Utah-Nevada border on U.S. Highway 6 and 50. Current plans call for the Sulphur gather to operate December 13 through 20, although weather conditions may affect the projected schedule. Participants must provide their own transportation, water and lunches. The BLM recommends that the public dress for harsh field conditions. Binoculars are strongly recommended. 

Adoption:

Animals removed from the Sulphur area will be available for adoption through the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program. To learn more about the program or to obtain an adoption application, visit the BLM National Wild Horse and Burro website at www.wildhorseandburro.blm.gov.

Latest News:

For BLM news releases and statements issued about the Sulphur gather, check our Newsroom.

Background:
The Sulphur HMA comprises approximately 265,676 acres of public and other land. The HMA is located in western Iron, Beaver, and Millard counties, Utah approximately 50 miles west of Minersville, Utah in the Indian Peak and Mountain Home Mountain Ranges. The elevation ranges from 9,790 feet on top of Indian Peak to 6,000 feet in the valley floors.
 
Average annual precipitation in the Sulphur HMA ranges from 8 to 15 inches a year, depending on elevation. In 2005 the precipitation was near 110% - 130% of normal in the HMA. In 2000 and 2006, annual precipitation was near normal. However, because of the timing of precipitation, it had little effect on the recovery of vegetation or the recharge of springs and seeps. In 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, and 2009 drought conditions and below normal precipitation occurred, with 2002 and 2003 being severe drought years. Vegetation, springs, and seep continue to struggle to recover from so many years of below normal precipitation. During the 2010 water year the precipitation was near normal, with good precipitation in the spring.
 
The Sulphur HMA supports multiple vegetation types including: Aspen, Mountain Fir, Spruce-Fur, Mountain Shrub, Pinyon-Juniper (PJ), sagebrush, grasslands, and salt desert shrub. The PJ woodland type dominates the HMA and is very dense with minimal understory forage. Open areas outside the PJ canopy are dominated by big sagebrush with Indian ricegrass, wheatgrass, bluegrass, and squirreltail grass as the primary forage species.
 
Available water within the HMA is the limiting factor regarding these horse populations. Water is limited to isolated springs and man-made developments that supply water to permitted livestock, wildlife, and wild horses. Several springs primarily used by wild horses, were dry during the summers of 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2008 forcing animals onto winter ranges and into areas outside of the HMA traditionally unoccupied by horses. Most water sources have produced at average levels allowing for normal use of the summer and winter ranges this year. A small number of horses (15-25 head) did move outside of normal use areas due to range improvements (troughs, well pumps, and pipeline) being in need of repair.
 
The Appropriate Management Level (AML) for wild horses within the HMA is 165-250. The AML was established in the Pinyon Management Framework Plan (MFP) Rangeland Program Summary ROD 1983, the April 1987 Warm Springs Resource Area RMP/ROD, and the Sulphur Wild Horse Herd Management Area Plan 1987, following an in-depth analysis of habitat suitability and resource monitoring and population inventory data, with public involvement. The AML upper limit is the maximum number of wild horses that can graze in a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple use relationship on the public lands in the area. Establishing AML as a population range allows for periodic removal of excess animals (to the low range) and subsequent population growth (to the high range) between removals.

The current estimated population of wild horses within the HMA is estimated at 276 head. This estimated number is based on an aerial survey direct count population inventory conducted in February 2008 with an estimated count of 80% of the total population based on coverage, weather, terrain, tree cover, snow cover, and knowledge of the HMA/horses, which estimated the population at that time to be 435 head of wild horses. The 2008 foal crop was added to the estimated population, 333 head that were removed in the November 2008 gather were subtracted and the 2009 and 2010 foal crops were added to formulate the current estimate population. The foal crop and survival of those foals increased the estimated wild horse population within the HMA by 20% each year between March 1 and July 1. The current estimated population of 276 wild horses is 110% of the upper AML.

Wild horses from the Conger Complex Herd Management Area

For more information on the Wild Horse and Burro Program, call 866-468-7826 or email wildhorse@blm.gov.


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Cumulative Totals
since December 13

Animals
Gathered

Animals
Returned to
Home Range

Animal
Deaths


 

90

 60

0