2018 BIBLE SPRINGS COMPLEX WILD HORSE GATHER
Began: January 30, 2018
Ended: February 14, 2018
Purpose of Gather:
Rangeland resources and wild horse health have been and are currently stressed in the Bible Springs Complex. The gather is needed to restore a thriving natural ecological balance. Drought conditions and overpopulation of wild horses during recent years have reduced forage production in some of the key wild horse habitat areas. Although livestock numbers have been continuously reduced and/or completely removed during drought conditions, excess wild horses overgraze many areas within the HMAs during critical growth periods. This, along with the reduced vigor of the plants due to drought, causes mortality of key forage species throughout the HMAs.
Details of Gather:
Starting Jan 30, meet at the Maverik located on 220 N Airport Rd in Cedar City, Utah, departing at 5:30 a.m. MST.
Gather Hotline: (801) 539-4050, updated daily
Follow the "2018 Bible Springs Complex Wild Horse Gather" on @BLMUtah Twitter with hashtag #BibleSpringsGather18.
The Bible Springs Complex is comprised of four herd management areas (HMA), Bible Spring, Blawn Wash, Four Mile and Tilly Creek. The four HMAs that make up the Bible Springs Complex are located in southwest Utah approximately 30 miles west of Minersville, Utah, in the Wah Wah and Indian Peak Mountain Ranges. The Bible Springs Complex is approximately 223,000 acres. All four HMAs will be included in this capture and removal. The wild horses primarily use the lower benches in the winter and the higher elevations in the summer.
In 2001, a land exchange between the BLM and the State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) placed the most critical wild horse habitat of the Blawn Wash HMA lands under SITLA management.SITLA lands comprise 43 percent (25,970 acres) of the Blawn Wash HMA, and produce an estimated 70 percent of the forage.The forage allocations within this area are now controlled by SITLA. Wild horses managed by the BLM could not be excluded from the SITLA lands without fencing the boundary of the SITLA lands, which would be very costly and difficult due to the rough terrain.For these reasons, it was determined that the Blawn Wash HMA would be managed at an Appropriate Management Level (AML) of zero (Bible Springs, Blawn Wash, Four Mile and Tilly Creek Wild Horse Appropriate Management Level (AML) Assessment, signed 4/18/2005 (EA# UT-040-04-47)).
In July 2014, the BLM completed the Bible Springs Complex Wild Horse Gather and Removal and Fertility Treatment Plan environmental assessment (EA), which analyzed the impacts of conducting multiple wild horse gathers in the Bible Springs Complex, which includes the Blawn Wash area.In summer 2014, the BLM Cedar City Field Office conducted its first wild horse gather approved under this plan, which resulted in removal of 143 wild horses from the Blawn Wash HMA.
In February 2016, the BLM entered into an agreement with SITLA to work cooperatively in management of wild horses that have entered onto SITLA lands. The agreement, which is subject to congressional appropriations, places priority on the removal of excess horses in the south-central and southwest areas of the state, where a lawsuit was originally filed by SITLA aimed at increasing the management of wild horse herds. The agreement enables SITLA to fulfill its trustee role in a more robust and effective manner by promoting healthy and productive rangelands on SITLA lands affected by wild horses.
In August 2016, the BLM Cedar City Field Office conducted its second wild horse gather approved under this plan, which resulted in removal of 158 wild horses from Blawn Wash HMA.
In August 2017, the BLM Cedar City Field Office conducted its third wild horse gather approved under this plan, which resulted in removal of 125 wild horses from the Bible Springs Complex – 62 from the Four Mile HMA, and 63 from the Tilly Creek HMA. Animals removed from the range were shipped to the Axtell Off-range Contract Facility and were made available for adoption through the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program beginning in October 2017.