Roundup Report: The 2022 Sulphur Wild Horse Roundup

The Sulphur Herd Management Area (HMA) encompasses approximately 265,675 acres, in Utah. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) currently estimates that approximately 600 wild horses call the HMA home. However, the BLM’s unscientifically low Appropriate Management Level (AML) for the HMA – the number of horses the agency claims that the range can sustainably support in conjunction with other animals and resource uses – is 165 to 250 horses. 

The last time this HMA was rounded up was in 2020. Read our report from the ground here, and watch a video of what it was like to be there in person here.

Even while the helicopters fly, removing our federally protected wild horses, the BLM continues to authorize thousands of sheep and cattle to graze in nine allotments that overlap with the HMA. It is time for the BLM to manage wild horse habitat for the wild horses. 

One of the primary beneficiaries of fewer wild horses in the Sulphur HMA is none other than Tammy Pearson. Last year, BLM appointed Pearson, a Beaver County Commissioner and public lands rancher, to the agency’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board representing the position of Public Interest, in which qualifications are defined as “general public with special knowledge of equine behavior.” AWHC continues to believe that Pearson has a clear conflict of interest that disqualifies her from serving in any position on the Advisory Board besides a seat representing livestock. 

This roundup will cost the taxpayers at least $311,500 to roundup approximately 376  beloved horses from the HMA. At this time it is unclear how many horses will be treated with fertility control and returned to the HMA. However, if all 376 wild horses are permanently removed from the HMA, this action would also bring along with it the lifetime cost, according to BLM’s own estimate, of approximately $18 million to house the horses for the remainder of their lives in government holding corrals. The contractor for this roundup is Shayne Sampson.

On top of that, the taxpayer foots the bill for federally-subsidized livestock grazing on public lands as well. The federal grazing fee remains at its historic low of $1.35 per animal per month. That’s a steep discount, thanks to the taxpayer subsidies that prop up this federal entitlement program. (Estimates indicate that the overall cost to taxpayers for the federal grazing program could be as much as $500 million annually.

Helicopters are scheduled to fly starting on February 8, 2022. We will update this report as the operation progresses.



February 16, 2022: 6 wild horses were captured and the roundup concluded.

February 15, 2022: No wild horses were captured but there were a staggering three deaths:

  • An 18-year-old dun stallion broke his neck after hitting a panel during sorting. 
  • According to BLM, a 17-year-old dun stallion was lame on both front legs with "no prognosis of recovery" and was euthanized.
  • A 7 year-old sorrel stallion was blind in his right eye was euthanized by BLM 

February 14, 2022: 27 wild horses were captured and there were no deaths reported.

February 13, 2022: 51 wild horses were rounded up and removed and there was one death after the BLM euthanized a 17-year-old grulla stallion that was blind in his left eye. 350 wild horses have been captured so far and there have been 8 deaths.

February 12, 2022: 29 wild horses were captured and removed and there was 1 death after the BLM euthanized a 9 year-old sorrel mare that was blind in her right eye.

February 11, 2022: 29 wild horses were removed and there were 4 deaths. The BLM euthanized:

  • A 12-year-old dun mare who was "lame on left hind leg due to a pre-existing condition with low to no prognosis of recovery."
  • A 3-year-old grulla stallion with "bad knees on both front legs due to pre-existing condition with no prognosis of recovery."
  • A 7-year-old grulla stallion who "had a club-foot on the front left leg."
  • A 20 year-old dun mare who had a "large abscess on her chest as a pre-existing condition with low to no prognosis of recovery."

The following report is by Darlene Smith who is onsite as an AWHC representative 

We left the Border Inn at 7:00 AM and traveled to a new trap site located about 39 miles Southeast of Baker, NV. We were directly on the other side of the mountain from where trap #2 was.

Once we arrived, we waited for about an hour while the trap was being constructed and an observation spot located. They had a lot of difficulty finding a good viewing spot due to terrain. There were many hills, ravines and trees. The observation site ended up being right on the fence line dividing Nevada and Utah.

We were on the Nevada side, the trap was on the Utah side. The trap was to our East closer to the mountain. We could see the wings and most of the trap but we were over 1.5 miles away which made viewing very difficult.

In the beginning, the pilot attempted to bring in 4 horses but they all spotted the trap and diverted away. The sun caused the trap wings to glow making it easy to see. They spent some time readjusting the wings. The pilot attempted to bring in a group of 8 from the Nevada side and they ran right behind us. But getting them to go through the opening of the fencing was proving difficult. They went out of sight and I am unsure where they ended up.

  • Run 1. 5 horses entered the trap at 10:12 AM
  • Run 2. 1 horse came in at 10:18
  • Run 3. 1 horse came in at 10:23
  • Run 4. 4 entered the trap at 10:52 AM
  • Run 5. 1 horse came into trap at 11:15.
  • Run 6. 1 horse came in at 11:18
  • Run 7. It was relayed to us that 1 yearling was roped shortly after run 6. I did not have visibility.
  • Run 7. 3 horses came in at 11:57 AM
  • Run 8. It was relayed to us that another yearling was roped out of sight shortly after run 7. The pilot landed and they took a break to readjust the wings of the trap. Up until this point they had trouble with the horses going in and staying in. They would often enter the wings and then turn around and attempt to get out. They ended up narrowing the trap entry.
  • Run 9. 2 horses came in at 12:54 PM
  • Run 10. 5 horses came in at 2:00 PM
  • Run 11. 4 horses came in at 2:30 PM (one mare was collared).

We then left for temp holding and arrived before the last of the horses did. I was able to stay and observe for an hour and watched them unload 2 trailers from a distance. They fed and watered them while I was there. Vet was on site doing inspections. Horses were calm. Body score 4-5 with a couple score 3.

February 10, 2022: 47 wild horses were captured and one died.

The following report is by Darlene Smith who is onsite as an AWHC representative 

We departed at 6:30 AM from the Border Inn and traveled 47 miles South to the observation site located a few miles off HWY 21. We were at the same location as day one of the roundups where viewing is more difficult due to distance and terrain. The trap was nearly a mile from observation and tucked out of sight behind a knoll. 

The BLM employee that is usually on-site with me needed to be home today. I was told that because I am a trusted individual, I could stay unsupervised at observation. They would come and check in occasionally and see if I had questions or concerns and relay information to me as needed. I was still within sight of the ranger down the road.

The Runs: 

  • At 8:12 AM I heard a distant helicopter and located it bringing a few horses down from higher on the mountain. 4 horses entered the trap at 8:37 AM. 
  • Run 2 came in at 8:58 AM with 5 horses. These also came from higher on the mountain, but from a closer distance to the trap. 
  • Run 3 entered the trap at 9:21 AM. There were 2 horses. 
  • Run 4. The helicopter was gone about an hour before I saw it again with 11 horses. On the approach, two broke away and the pilot tried to get them headed toward the trap again, but they wouldn’t cooperate. He left to concentrate on the larger group. At 10:44, 9 entered the trap. The other 2 got away, for now.
  • Run 5: 5 entered the trap at 10:55 AM
  • Run 6: 3 entered the trap at 11:14 AM
  • Run 7: 2 entered the trap at 12:05 PM 
  • Run 8: 8 entered at 1:00 PM 
  • Run 9: 3 entered the trap at 1:39 PM 
  • Run 10: 3 entered the trap at 3:17 PM
  • Run 11: 3 entered the trap at 3:51 PM

Notable instances: 

  • I was informed at holding that a 2-year-old stud broke his neck and died during loading from trap to holding. They did a necropsy to verify that there was a complete separation of the 3rd and 4th vertebrae. Also, there was one with a club foot. As of the time I left holding, the decision had not yet been made whether to euthanize that horse or not.  
  • A lot of the horses today were brought in from farther distances. The helicopter would push them in the right direction and then back off, sometimes as much as a mile, to let them run in at their own pace. 

We were done for the day so they took me to temp holding.  The horses were calm, fed, and watered. I noticed a couple of mares with cuts on their heads but they were not actively bleeding and the cuts didn't seem severe.  


February 9, 2022: 74 wild horses were chased into traps today.

The following report is by Darlene Smith who is onsite as an AWHC representative 

We left the Border Inn meeting spot at 6:30 AM and traveled 36 miles South to the observation site located off HWY 21. We hiked up a hill so that we could be overlooking the area from which the horses would be running in from and had a view of the trap site.

The Runs: 

  • Run 1 came in at 8:32 AM. 5 horses entered the wings but all of them jumped the jute and escaped. One horse got caught, flipped over, and was tangled briefly in the jute but didn’t appear to be injured. They ran up the hill behind the trap and the pilot let them go.

  • Run 2 came in at 8:35 AM with 17 horses including 2 yearlings. 
  • Run 3 came into the trap at 9:29 AM with 13 horses including 3 yearlings.  The pilot refueled and left to find more. 
  • Run 4 came in about 10:40 with 17 horses including 4 yearlings. 3 mares had previously been treated with GonaCon, including one collared mare that’s being studied by CSU and USGS. 
  • Run 5 with 4 horses came in at 11:29 AM. One escaped in a slight opening by the trap entrance and ran to hills. The pilot stayed on him and a wrangler went out but they did not get him. 
  • Before run 6, the pilot fueled up again and left for over 1.5 hours until run 6 came in.  5 horses including 2 yearlings came into the trap at 1:09.  They were sweaty from running far. 
  • Run 7 came in at 1:58 PM with 4 horses. 
  • Run 8 came in at 2:37 PM. There was 1 horse. There were originally 5 but the other 4 broke away out on the range. The pilot went back out and I watched him attempt to get them back.  There was a black stallion that was absolutely defiant and ran like the wind to escape.  The pilot eventually gave up and went to refuel again. 
  • Run 9 came in at 4:19 PM with 11 horses. Originally it was 13 but one broke away and one lagged behind and didn’t go in. 
  • Run 10 The pilot went back out and found the first horse that broke away and brought him in at 4:24 PM.  
  • Run 11 The pilot went back out again for the one that lagged behind and brought that one in. Once she entered the wings, she turned around and bolted out underneath the helicopter. He followed her for a bit and then 2 wranglers went out and roped her at about 4:33. The actual roping was out of view when she ran down into a wash. They walked her in at a slow pace and stopped if she did. Once in the wings, they took the rope off, let the Judas horse go, and she followed him in at 4:46 PM. 

We were done for the day.  I went to temp holding and waited for the last trailer to unload and then I was able to walk around. Horses were calm and had already been given food and water.  The vet was on site assessing the horses. They had body scores of 3-4.

February 8, 2022: 120 wild horses were captured and one was euthanized.

The following report is by Darlene Smith who is onsite as an AWHC representative 

We began the day early meeting at the Border Inn on the UT/NV border. We left at 5:30AM to travel to the observation point which was 47 miles South located off HWY 21. We sat in our vehicles for an hour to stay warm and wait for the sun to rise. It was mid 20's early and by the end of the day was 55°.

The trap site was nearly a mile away from our observation point. I could see part of the wings but not the trap as it was blocked by a knoll. We could see most of the approach to the wings but once the horses went over the knoll, they were out of sight.

The Runs:

  • Run 1 had 5 horses and came in at 8:10 AM.
  • Run 2 came in at 8:30 AM with 6 horses including a yearling.
  • Run 3 a few minutes later had 3 horses.
  • Run 4 had 11 horses and came in at 9:09 AM.
  • Run 5 had 5 horses at 9:32 Am.
  • Run 6 had 4 horses just eight minutes later at 9:40.
  • Run 7 had 4 horses just a couple of minutes later.
  • Run 8 had 16 horses and came in about 10:08 AM 
  • Run 9 had about 34 horses in it. The pilot fueled up and then left for about an hour before I spotted this run on the horizon. They came from farther away and when they passed closer to us, I could see their coats glistening in the sun from sweat.  At one point they slowed and the pilot backed off and allowed them to stand together and rest a couple of minutes. They entered the trap at 11:33 AM.
  • Run 10 was spotted at 12:09 PM and on their approach, a couple jumped part of a downed fence. It looked as though one horse maybe snagged the fence line but continued to run just fine. 10 horses entered the trap at 12:19 PM. We inquired about the condition of that horse and if any wounds were sustained.  I was told that one sorrel mare had a superficial cut on her lower leg and that they will spray it with a topical ointment.
  • Run 11 came in at 12:42 PM of 8 horses.
  • Run 12 came in at 1:11 PM of 8 horses including 3 yearlings
  • Run 13 5 horses were spotted at 1:48 PM and then ran into the trap at 1:59 PM. 

They called it a day at 2:00 PM. The body score of the horses from today was 3-4.

After the conclusion of today’s operation, We headed to temporary holding and arrived at 2:30 PM. We waited until a little after 4 PM before walking around. While waiting, I was able to watch the last trailer unload from a distance. They had water and I watched them place food around the pens.  The horses were calm.  

Notable instances:

  • I was informed that a yearling filly had to be euthanized at the trap because her leg had been caught in the bars and larger horses then pushed against the panels and it snapped her ankle.
  • There was a vet on-site and she also pulled a horse out from holding to look at an eye issue.  

I inquired about how many horses will be turned back.  I was told up to 50 and that the studs would be held at temporary holding until release.  But the mares will be taken to Axtell until treated with GonaCon. They will pick those to be released based on traits in line with the unique nature of this herd having bloodlines from the old Colonial Spanish Horse.