The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to round up and remove approximately 450 wild horses from BLM-administered and other lands within and near the Blawn Wash Herd Management Area (HMA) and Bible Spring Complex HMA beginning August 7, 2022. The herds are located in Iron and Beaver counties; approximately 45 miles West of Cedar City, Utah, and accessible via the Lund Highway.
The Bible Springs Complex encompasses the Four Mile, Tilly Creek, and Bible Springs Herd Management Areas (HMA). The BLM sets an arbitrary population limit of just 80 to 170 wild horses in total across these 3 areas:
- Tilly Creek HMA: 37,000 acres, BLM only permits 20-50 horses
- Bible Springs HMA: 62,00 acres, BLM only permits 30-60 horses
- Four Mile HMA: 61,000 acres, BLM only permits 30-60 horses
Meanwhile, the BLM permits 16 grazing allotments within the HMA’s
- 1,674 sheep and 313 cows graze in 100% of the HMAs
- 702 cows graze in 90-94% of the HMAs
- 2,029 additional cows are permitted to graze partial within the HMAs
Since 2014, AWHC has been involved in litigation against the ranchers in this area who sought to eliminate hundreds of federally-protected wild horses from the HMA in order to reduce the competition for grazing domestic livestock.
The Bible Springs Roundup Concluded on August 20 with the removal of 305 wild horses and the death of 1.
August 20, 2022
We departed Cedar city at 5:30 AM and traveled 43 miles to the same observation site we were at on Friday. As we got closer to our destination, the roads had been washed out overnight by monsoon rains leaving big rocks and other debris scattered about. Flash flooding had deposited a foot of mud near the trap site. The trap itself was not as buried as yesterday, but the pen area was muddier and the passage in/out was worse. A truck could get in, but a trailer filled with thousands of pounds worth of horses would not make it out. Within 10 minutes of arriving, they called it off. They were tearing down the trap.
August 19, 2022: 19 wild horses were rounded up and removed today.
We departed Cedar City at 5:30 AM and traveled 43 miles to the observation point. We were placed high on a hill next to radio towers which allowed us to see the valley and the entire trap. The trap site was less than 1/2 mile from observation.
The trap was set up against a small knoll in a wash. We once again had flooding rains overnight and part of the trap had been buried up to a foot in gravel. They had to get it to dig out and re-set before they got started. It was 58° F.
At 7:50 AM, a group of 11 (including a foal) were spotted a few miles away running across the flats. Their coats glistened in the rising sun from sweat. At one point, the pilot backed off and let them rest. At 8:05 AM they entered the trap. As soon as they went in, we saw 2 riders go around the opposite side of the wings. The foal had escaped the jute right by the pen entrance and was in between the trap and the side of the knoll. They were able to quickly get him into the trap, but not without being bit and kicked first by the feisty little foal. When they left to take the horses to holding, they had to pull the truck out because it was stuck in the mud.
The helicopter was gone for nearly 2 hours and came back to refuel. He left again and at 10:10 AM, 4 (including one foal) were seen exiting the trees and heading toward the trap. They entered at 10:15 AM. It was now 68° F.
We heard the helicopter but could not see it for the next 30 minutes. We got word from the pilot that he had a mare and foal that wouldn’t budge. They loaded the wranglers and took a trailer toward where the pilot was flying to rope them. But they did not succeed. The mare moved higher in the trees with the foal following, so they decided to let them go. The pilot flew back to refuel again. It was now 76° F.
At noon, we saw the helicopter and 4 horses (including one foal) crossing the flats from over a mile away. They looked tired. The helicopter did back off and allow them to move at a slower pace. At 12:16 PM, they entered the trap. They called it a day.
We then headed to temp holding 6 miles away arriving around 1:00 PM. The body score of the horses today were 4-5. They had food and water available. We did not walk around temp holding because they were going to load to ship to Axtell. I was allowed to watch from my truck in the parking area. I have never been given that access before. It took a little under an hour to load the large stock trailer with horses. Mentally, I knew that it was going to be stressful and chaotic for them and hard to watch for me. It was indeed really rough to see the horses panic and be so scared. Some went on the trailer ok, but others would hesitate and fight it but ultimately would give in and go as they had no choice. Occasionally one would rear up in an attempt to get out of the pen, jumping on other horses to do so.
Once a few were on the trailer, the trailer would rock back and forth due to the stallions panicking and trying to move out of the space they were in. I could hear loud bangs from them kicking the side of the trailer. All I could see were their ears through the openings but they were very agitated. Who can blame them… Any wild animal will fight when put in a confined space. It took a good 10 minutes before they calmed down.
Once the trailer was full, they left for Axtell at about 2:20 PM. I followed them down the dirt road on my way back to town. As long as the trailer was moving, they stayed calm. Within a few minutes, we got stopped at a railroad track by a stationary train blocking the road. I noticed that as soon as the truck stopped moving, the horses would all start panicking and kicking again. The driver would inch forward every so often because the motion of the truck would calm them down. Eventually, he ran out of space to do that, so those of us behind him pulled over so that he could back up to keep moving. It took over 20 minutes before the train had cleared the road. Then they were on their way again to their next place of confinement.
As a side note, I was informed that those that were in the possible release pen would not be released because they have not reached the number of horses they had planned to catch in this HMA. Unfortunately, that's how it works. Instead, I watched them loaded onto that trailer to Axtell today.
August 18, 2022: 1 wild horse was captured today.
We departed Cedar City at 5 AM and traveled 59 miles to the observation location in the Water Hollow area. We arrived at about 6:45 AM. We were actually on private property today. The land owner was on site and thankfully gave me permission to observe.
I started hearing the helicopter about 7:50 AM but could not see the horses due to a hill. 15 minutes later, a group of 6 horses (including a small foal) led by a stunning buckskin suddenly came up over the ridge next to us. We were not expecting that as they’d been out of view up to that point. The pilot quickly drove them back down the hill out of sight again but just before the last horse went down, he stopped and glanced at us for a brief moment. It was beautiful. After another 5 minutes trying to turn them around, he left them and flew back to trap and landed. The horses had scattered and he decided to take a break and let them re-group.
9:00 AM. A small band (including one foal) was spotted heading in toward the trap. It took him a few attempts to get them near the wings. At 9:17 AM, they all started to go in the wings but then all turned and went back out, except one. A lone stallion entered the trap. Shortly after, the pilot went back for the others. Multiple attempts were made to get them in again, but every time they would divert away. The pilot left to get fuel.
9:40 AM. I heard the helicopter but could not see it. Shortly before 10 AM, a small band of 5-6 was seen coming out of the trees behind the trap. For 10 minutes he attempted to get them into the trap with no luck. Again, they would divert as they neared the wings. He decided to leave them and flew elsewhere to see if he could find more horses.
10:30 AM. I could hear, but not see, the helicopter. At 10:50 I got a brief glimpse of a few horses heading off the hill thru the trees. A few minutes later about 5 (including a foal) were pushed toward the wings. Again, all turned and diverted away.
After 3 hours of failed attempts, they called it a day at 11am. One horse was captured out of over 30 we'd seen. His body score was 5.
I was told this area has been notoriously difficult to capture horses from. They’ve been to this area multiple times over the span of many years and it’s been hard every time. They are thinking of trying a bait trap the next time to remove the horses from this private property.
Because one horse was captured, we didn’t go to temp holding today. They were also moving trap sites for tomorrow.
August 17, 2022: 17 wild horses were captured
We departed Cedar City, UT at 5:30 AM and traveled 53 miles to our observation point, which was the same one we ended at on Tuesday. We arrived shortly after 6:30 AM. There was significant rains overnight and it was a pleasant 59° F.
The helicopter didn’t arrive until 7:45 AM. Shortly after arriving, he was seen pushing 5 horses (including a foal) toward the trap. As the pilot turned them to approach the wings, the lead horse splintered off and ran North (opposite direction). The pilot stayed with the other 4 and they entered the wings. Upon entering, they hesitated and all but one ran thru the jute and escaped. One went into the trap. The mare and foal ran one way, and a grey ran a different direction. For about 10 minutes, the pilot attempted to get them back together but they kept switching directions. He decided to stop pursuing them.
At 9:10 AM we saw him pushing 5 more out of the hills including one foal. He left them in the open to go get fuel and returned a few minutes later. They went into trap at 9:25 AM.
9:45 AM. A group of 8 (including 2 foals) emerged from a canyon. They entered the trap at 10:00 AM. It was now 72° F.
10:30 AM. I saw he was again pursing the first group that he started with this morning (gray, mare and foal) that escaped the trap. As they neared the backside of the trap, 3 wranglers were already waiting and automatically pursued them up the canyon. All 3 were roped out of sight but I saw them being walked toward trap shortly after. As the mare got closer, she bucked, fought, and ran in an attempt to escape. But she didn’t. They walked her into trap at 11:10 AM. It’s both inspiring and heartbreaking to watch these horses fight with everything they have to stay free.
They called it a day at that trap. They will be moving trap locations again and would not be flying again today so we headed to temp holding 48 miles away arriving at 12:30 PM. They had not brought all the horses captured this morning in yet before we arrived. At 1:00 PM the group of mares and foals arrived. I watched as these little foals cautiously stepped out of the trailer into a new world of bars. Their short life of freedom already gone.
We had to wait until they sorted and processed the horses before we could do a walk around which happened around 2:45 PM. Horses were calm, and had food and water available.
August 16, 2022: 44 horses were captured.
We departed at 5:30 AM and traveled to the observation location in Liza Wash, 59 miles from Cedar City. This was the trap site they also used on Saturday and Sunday. We were placed on the side of a hill a little over 1/4 mile from the trap. I could see the wings, but the trap was mostly obscured by a knoll. Due to very hilly terrain, it was difficult to see much of the approach until they came over the hill towards trap.
I heard the helicopter at about 7:30AM and at 7:50, 8 horses came over the hill but only a few went into the trap. The pilot went back out to get those that splintered off and over the next 15 minutes was able to get 5 more in through 4 different runs. No foals observed so far.
8:30 AM. 3 entered the trap including one foal. 2 more entered trap at 8:49 AM and one more 5 minutes later.
The pilot then went in a different direction and brought in a mare and foal that were on the other side of a fence. I could not see this fence but was told they bring them through a gate, which I could briefly see. As they got closer within sight, the mare hesitated for some time going through the gate. The pilot hovered back until she went through without being pushed. They entered trap at 9:17 AM.
At 10:10 AM, 5 horses came into view. They were heading up over the hill and moving slower. The pilot did stay back and allow them to move at their own pace. At 10:24 AM they entered the trap.
Total caught so far was about 22.
At 10:40AM they called it for that trap site and decided to move trap locations. They were not certain if they were going to fly again today so we went to temp holding to view those from this morning until we knew if they’d continue. We traveled 27 miles to temp holding and arrived about noon. I was able to observe the last trailer of horses be unloaded and also see the sorting process. This is not normally something we get to observe very often. The horses would get agitated during sorting, but once sorted out would calm down. We stayed at temp holding for over 3 hours until it was decided they would fly again using the new trap location. During that time at temp holding, the horses were mostly calm. All horses were body scores 4-5 and had food and water available.
We left temp holding and traveled 52 miles to the new observation spot arriving at 4:35 PM. It was about 20 miles SW from the first trap. The pilot was already in the air and was pushing 2 horses in the trap as we pulled up. We were then told they had already gotten 18 (including 7 foals) as we were driving over. This area was much more wide open so we were placed about a mile away and were positioned next to railroad tracks. We could get on the tracks for a higher perspective but decided to stay lower off the side in case a train came by, which one did. We were radioed ahead of time that a train was approaching.
The pilot then brought in a mare with a foal toward the trap. Immediately upon approaching the wings the mare turned back and the foal followed her. Over the next 5 minutes, the pilot tried to get them in but the mare kept switching directions. The foal ended up being separated and ran into the wings alone, but then escaped thru the jute, stumbled, and then continued running West of the trap.
2 wranglers went out and roped it while the pilot continued to try and get the mare in. She ended up running back toward her foal so 3 more wranglers went out and roped her. They drove a trailer out to them to load them.
At 5:20 PM it began to rain so they called it for the day. Due to the late hour, and approaching monsoon storms, we didn’t return to temp holding.
August 15, 2022: 6 wild horses were captured today.
August 14, 2022: 34 wild horses were captured today.
August 13, 2022: 53 wild horses were captured today.
The BLM convoy left the meeting site at 5:30 am and arrived at a new trap site at 6:47 am. This new site was located in between Tilly Creek HMA and Bible Spring HMA with one other member of the public joining observation.
The observation was set up within 150 yards of the trap with only the wings of the trap visible and no clear view of the trap or pen.
At 8:28 am, the first group of four adult horses was captured, followed by five more adults and two foals at 8:48 am.
A group of six horses was led up a ridge with one foal falling far behind and getting separated from the group before being roped at 9:01 am.
The remaining five adults were led into the trap at 9:07 am. Two adults and one foal were captured at 10:12 am. Five adults were captured at 11:19 am, followed by a group of seven adults and three foals at 11:30 am
.At 12:31 pm, three adults were captured, and four more plus one foal at 1:26 pm.
The last two pushes consisted of capturing a group of five adults at 2:27 pm and finally three adults and two foals at 3:09 pm.
The day ended at 3:10 pm.
August 12, 2022: 10 wild horses were captured today.
AWHC’s field representative was 1 of three public observers onsite, located "3/10ths of a mile" from the observation site according to the range finder.
The BLM convoy left the meeting site at 5:30 am and arrived at the Broken Ridge (same site as the last two days) observation site at 7:00 am.
Gus Warr, the BLM coordinator for roundup operations informed that a 17-year-old bay stud was euthanized the previous evening due to an eye injury. The cause of injury is unknown, but it is thought that it was punctured before the operation. There is some potential that it was due to cancer. This horse arrived with the second group from yesterday's roundup and there was no abnormal behavior noted.
Observers were also notified that a mare being rounded up in the first group today had a limp that BLM had observed long before roundup operations.
At 7:17 am, the first group was captured, including three adults and one foal. Observers did not notice the limp previously mentioned.
At 7:33 am, an attempt to push three adults into the trap failed as the small group scattered and ran in different directions. One horse nearly went into the trap but reversed course and avoided attempts to corral back into the trap by the helicopter.
Two adults were caught at 8:08 am, followed by three adults and one foal at 8:50 am.
Operations were halted at 10:10 am as the trap was being taken down and sites were moved.
We visited temporary holding where horses appeared to be stressed and agitated.
August 11, 2022: Approximately 37 wild horses were captured today and there was 1 death after the BLM euthanized a 17-year-old stallion for being blind in one eye.
Convoy left the meeting site at 5:30 am and arrived at Broken Ridge, the same capture site as the previous day.
One other member of the public joined the observation. Conditions were overcast and wet from the night's previous rainfall and a light rain began falling at 7:45 am before the first run of the day. We were located "3/10ths of miles" from observation with semi-obstructed views
- Five adults and two foals were captured at 7:50 am, followed by another five adults and one foal at 8:09 am.
- At approximately 8:15 am, two adults and one foal were seen slowly walking toward the trap despite the helicopter being nearby. The foal looked very young and all three were captured after the slow walk at 8:31 am.
- Four adults and one foal were then promptly captured at 9:06 am.
- At 9:40 am, two adults were driven from North of the trap site near the observation area, causing the horses to run within 30 yards of public observation.
- These adults ignored attempts to corral by the helicopter, evading the trap, and escaped to the hills.
- Two more adults were driven in the same manner, running near observation, but were captured at 9:53 am.
- Two adults and two foals were captured at 11:09 am, four adults and one foal at 1:23 pm, and four adults and one foal at 2:56 pm. The last group was slowly trotting and appeared tired from running.
The day ended at approximately 3:00 pm.
August 10, 2022: 51 wild horses were captured and there were no deaths.
AWHC is one of six members of the public onsite at the Bible Springs roundup. Today. the convoy left the meet site promptly at 5:30 am before arriving at the observation site at Broken Ridge within Four Mile HMA at 7:20 am. Observers were informed that they were located 3/10ths of a mile from the trap site according to the BLM’s range finder with a semi-obstructed view of the trap, but clear views of the run path.
- The first run saw six adults and three foals trapped at 8:09 am,
- The second run had a group of eight horses pushed toward the trap before redirecting and escaping, with some horses running within 25 yards of the observation site.
- At 9:02 am, five adults were captured and the captured horses were loaded and driven to temporary holding.
- A group of nine adults and 2 foals were captured at 10:10 am and five more adults were captured at 10:50 am.
- At 12:02 pm, five adults were captured while a mare was temporarily separated from her foal. The pair were reunited briefly before separating again and the mare was subsequently led into the trap. The foal was finally led into the trap by the Judas horse.
- Five more adults were captured at 1:00 pm and the day's operations were suspended at 1:50 pm. A lone sweaty horse ran within 25 yards of the observation site before all observers left for temporary holding.
When we arrived at holding, it was observed that the horses were visibly sweaty and distressed, but healthy with no apparent injuries. Thirty-six horses were shipped from temporary holding. Observers were told that ~9 dry mares and 3 studs were to be re-released.
August 9, 2022: No wild horses were rounded up today. AWHC's field representative was on site and followed the convoy to the observation area however, after 5 hours the helicopters could not locate any horses in the Blawn Wash HMA. This is a concerning development.
August 8, 2022: 25 wild horses were captured and there were no deaths reported.
The convoy departed from the meeting place at 5:30 am and included three other members of the public. At 7:09 am the convoy arrived near the trap site and the public was asked to remain in place while the observation site was determined. Two horses were roaming half a mile within sight of this space as the group waited.
At 8:13 am the public was moved to an observation site overlooking the trap at a distance of approximately 250 yards.
At 10:32 am the helicopter communicated adjustments while hovering over the trap before flying southbound, at which time we were notified that we were within the Blawn Wash area of the Bible Springs Complex.
At 10:44 am, two adults and a foal could be seen by the trap, after which the helicopter corralled the foal and caused the two adults to separate. The mare was later caught at 11:03 am.
At 11:55 am, four adults and two foals were captured shortly after a refueling break. Five adults and one foal were then corralled into the trap before two broke free and ran behind the observation area and were followed because the pilot believed one was a captured foal's mother. This mare was roped at 12:42 pm while the stud with her managed to escape.
Five adults were then captured at 2:49 pm, followed by four more adults. At 2:56 pm, four adults and one foal were led into the trap area but circled through and evaded capture before one was separated from the group. The remaining three adults and foal were led back toward the trap but stopped short of capture and managed to escape once again before dispersing.
At 3:15 pm, one horse was roped out of sight and the day's capture came to an end.
August 7, 2022: 8 wild horses were captured.