Heartbreaking News! Oregon To Begin Experiments Of Mass Sterilization On Wild Horses Next Month


While the House and Senate Appropriations Committee convened earlier this week to decide if America’s federally protected wild horse and burro herds might be at risk of a mass surgical sterilization program, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Burns District Office in Oregon announced that it will begin controversial experiments to remove the ovaries of wild mares next month.

The federal agency reached this decision despite opposition from the public, many veterinarians, and a warning from the National Academy of Sciences that the procedure was “inadvisable” due to health risks, and the withdrawal of two major research institutions, Colorado State University and Oregon State University from the project.

In response, the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) and the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) are evaluating all possible means to stop the experiments, including litigation. The organizations are working closely with The Cloud Foundation (TCF), whose executive director, Ginger Kathrens, is the humane representative on the BLM’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board.

“The National Academy of Sciences itself warned against the risky surgeries that the BLM wants to perform on innocent and federally protected wild mustangs,” Brieanah Schwartz, government relations and policy counsel for AWHC, said in a statement. “The fact that the BLM has chosen to move forward with these archaic, dangerous, and inhumane procedures demonstrates how far removed the agency is from sound, scientific, evidence-based decision-making.”

“This proposal is especially unconscionable considering a humane method of population control is available through the use of the proven PZP birth control vaccine,” Schwartz continued, “but the BLM continues to vastly underutilize it.”

“If they live through the surgery, mares that undergo this type of spay procedure will appear to be permanently in heat, and will therefore endure constant sexual advances from males,” Ginger Kathrens, executive director of TCF said.

Bowing to public pressure, Colorado State University pulled out of the BLM’s planned surgical sterilization study last month. In 2016, Oregon State University withdrew from its BLM partnership after protests and legal challenges from wild horse advocacy groups occurred. Joint comments submitted this summer to the BLM, AWHC and AWI recommended that the agency implement a comprehensive on-the-range management program in the Warm Springs Herd Management Area.

Instead, the BLM now plans to start rounding up 100% of the wild horses in the Warm Springs Herd Management Area in early October. An estimated 685 horses will be permanently removed and another 100 mares will be surgically sterilized.

“The BLM’s decision to move forward with inhumane, unproven and potentially life-threatening surgical experiments on federally protected wild horses is an affront to the many Americans who value and cherish these animals on our public lands,” said Joanna Grossman, Ph.D., AWI’s equine program manager. “We had hoped that the BLM would heed the advice of numerous experts that had warned against performing ovariectomies on wild horses, including pregnant mares that could lose their foals as a result of this heinous procedure.”

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