Breaking! Colorado State University Withdraws From Plan With BLM To Conduct Surgical Sterilization Experiments On Wild Horses

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Following substantial public outcry, Colorado State University (CSU) announced yesterday that it was withdrawing from a joint plan with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to conduct surgical sterilization experiments on wild horses.

More than 10,000 citizens, including numerous equine veterinarians, joined the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC), the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), and other humane and horse advocacy organizations in opposing the proposed mare sterilization research.

The withdrawal of CSU from the experiments strikes a major blow to the BLM’s plan to round up by helicopter all wild horses in the Warm Springs Herd Management Area, and then force 100 of the captured mares to undergo ovariectomies via colpotomy—a particularly dangerous surgical procedure in which a mare’s ovaries are severed and pulled out while the animal remains conscious.

Since the wild horses cannot be handled, they would not be provided with the required post-operative care, including restricted movement, adequate pain relief, and antibiotic treatment for infections. Shockingly, part of the stated experimental goal is to quantify how many pregnant mares would abort foals as a result of the procedure.

“CSU made the right decision to listen to veterinarians and the public and dissociate itself from these inhumane and barbaric wild horse sterilization experiments,” Brieanah Schwartz, AWHC government relations and policy council said in a statement. “There is a way to manage wild horses and removing the ovaries of wild mares is not it. It’s time for the BLM to stop wasting tax dollars and start following the advice of the National Academy of Sciences to manage horses humanely on the range using the proven PZP birth control vaccine.”

In 2016, the BLM proposed similar mare sterilization experiments in conjunction with Oregon State University, but canceled them after massive public opposition and a lawsuit filed by AWHC and The Cloud Foundation. This summer, the agency revived the proposal, partnering with CSU.

Last week, AWHC and AWI submitted extensive comments outlining the numerous ethical, constitutional, legal, and scientific problems with the new proposal. The groups notified the agency that they would pursue legal action if necessary to halt the experiments and protect these animals from abuse.

“We commend Colorado State University for reconsidering the decision to work with the BLM on this bizarre and barbaric plan that would subject wild horses to risky, inhumane and unnecessary sterilization surgeries,” said Dr. Joanna Grossman, AWI’s equine program manager. “Advocates across the country made it abundantly clear that using federally protected wild horses as test subjects is ethically and legally unjustifiable. Our hope is that the BLM will recognize that any effort to ovariectomize wild mares is toxic and must not move forward.”

AWI and AWHC are urging the BLM to permanently drop plans to conduct the ovariectomy via colpotomy procedure on wild mares.

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