2022 Sulphur HMA Wild Horse Gather
Purpose of Gather:
The gather decision supports the BLM’s continuing efforts to provide public safety, improve the status of threatened and special species, and manage wild horse populations under the Warm Springs Resource Management Plan and the Pinyon Management Framework Plan decisions. The Sulphur Herd Management Area (HMA) Plan identifies the HMA boundaries in both land use plans as suitable for wild horses and states the removal objective for both land use plans, including a necessity to “remove excess wild horses from the Sulphur HMA when the population of adult horse, those two years old and older, reaches the upper level of 180 horses.” If wild horses of all ages are included in the calculation, the appropriate management level for this HMA is 165 to 250 horses. The current estimated population for the HMA is 600 horses.
Details of Gather:
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to gather approximately 376 wild horses from BLM-administered lands using the helicopter drive-trapping method. Population growth suppression will be implemented to help stabilize the annual increase of animals being born on the HMA.
All excess wild horses identified for removal will be transported to the Axtell Off-Range Contract Wild Horse Facility located in Axtell, Utah, where they will be checked by a veterinarian and readied for the BLM’s wild horse and burro Adoption and Sale Program.
Opportunities are available for the public to observe daily helicopter operations through BLM-escorted tours so long as conditions remain safe for both the horses and participants and ensuring that gather operations are not disrupted. Observers must provide their own transportation, water, and food. No public restrooms will be available. The BLM recommends weather-appropriate footwear and neutral-colored clothing. Binoculars and four-wheel drive or other high-clearance vehicles are also strongly recommended (possible snowy and muddy conditions). Details on the BLM-escorted tours will be updated each evening during the gather and announced daily on the BLM gather hotline at (801) 539-4050.
Gather operations began on Tuesday, Feb. 8, and individuals should meet at the Border Inn located on the Utah-Nevada Border on Highway 6 and historic Highway 50 where tours will depart at 5:30 a.m. MT. Please be aware that cell phones may automatically change over to PT due to the location.
All excess wild horses identified for removal will be transported to the Axtell Off-Range Contract Wild Horse Facility located in Axtell, Utah where they will be checked by a veterinarian and readied for the BLM’s wild horse and burro Adoption and Sale Program. Those that are not placed into a new home will be cared for in off-range pastures, where they live off the rest of their lives on grass pastures.
For information on how to adopt or purchase a wild horse or burro, visit www.blm.gov/whb.
In the mountain peaks and sloping lowlands of western Utah roams a nationally recognized population of wild horses with a Utah heritage much older than most of ours. Many of these horses draw their bloodlines from the old Spanish Type, the Colonial Spanish Horse, the first horses brought to America by the Spanish Explorers in the 1500s. Through time, the Sulphur Herd has bred with escaped ranch livestock, but some still hold many of the Colonial Spanish Horse traits. These traits include colors that are dun and grulla, a gray or mouse color. Their ears can curve in like a bird's beak, with fawn-colored insides rimmed in black. They may have a dorsal stripe down their back, bi-colored manes and tails, and striped legs. Some may even have some facial cob webbing or a mask on their face. The horses have a short back, because they may have only five lumbar vertebrae instead of six. There are only a few other herds of wild horses in the United States which may exhibit these same characteristics.
The HMA is located in western Iron, Beaver, and Millard counties (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.
The HMA contains 230,157 acres of BLM lands and 35,554 acres of Federal, State-, and privately-owned land for a total of 265,711 acres.
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.
Available water within the HMA is the limiting factor regarding this HMA. 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 2000-2004, 2007-2008, and 2012-2015, forcing animals onto winter ranges and into areas outside of the HMA traditionally unoccupied by horses. Most water sources produced less than average levels for the summer, forcing wild horses to use winter ranges throughout the summer.
Big game species that occur in the Sulphur HMA include mule deer, Rocky Mountain elk and pronghorn. All three species are year-long residents. Competition for forage between big game species and wild horses is greatest during the spring and summer months when mule deer, elk and pronghorn are feeding primarily on grasses and forbs. Additionally, forb consumption is crucial during the early spring months for does to maintain a healthy body condition while meeting the nutrient requirements of nursing fawns. Competition is reduced in fall and winter when mule deer and pronghorn shift their diets to browse (i.e., bitterbrush, sagebrush) species. Typically, elk move to wintering areas throughout the Pine and Hamlin Valleys. During periods of drought competition between wildlife and wild horses increase dramatically when less forage is available.
As of Feb. 16, 2022
Animals Gathered: 383
383 Wild Horses (184 Stallions, 199 Mares, and 0 Foals)
Animals Shipped: 352
352 Wild Horses (157 Stallions, 195 Mares, and 0 Foals)
20 Wild Horses (20 Stallions, 0 Mares, and 0 Foals)
-Sudden / Acute: 3
-Pre-existing / Chronic: 8
Scroll to the bottom of this gather page for detailed “Daily Gather Reports"