Press Release: BLM chief: Wild horse euthanasia off table; RTF urges agency to drop push for surgical sterilization of wild mares

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Wild horses at Return to Freedom’s San Luis Obispo, Calif., satellite sanctuary. Photo by Rich Sladick.

RTF calls on Congress to support non-lethal management path proposed by stakeholders

Casey Hammond, the Interior Department’s principal deputy assistant secretary for land and minerals management, told the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board on Thursday that the Trump administration is no longer pursuing euthanasia for unadopted wild horses and burros.

Statement from Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation:

While Return to Freedom appreciates that the Bureau of Land Management’s acting chief, Casey Hammond, said today that the agency is no longer pursuing a plan to euthanize healthy wild horses and burros, his comments contradict those made by a colleague only the day before.

Bruce Rittenhouse, acting chief of BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program, told the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board on Wednesday that his agency’s report to Congress next month would include analysis of euthanizing older wild horses and burros viewed as unadoptable, as requested by lawmakers. We hope that BLM’s report to Congress will reflect Hammond’s assurances that killing healthy animals is not something the agency intends to pursue, but our concerns remain.

In addition, Hammond and Rittenhouse both noted BLM continues to view permanent sterilization of wild mares as an option — comments that only underscore our frustration that the agency continues to spend tax dollars on pursuing dangerous, unproven and costly surgeries, especially when proven, safe and humane forms of fertility control are cheaper and readily available but little used by BLM.

Stakeholders from all sides of the wild horse issue have offered Congress a viable, non-lethal proposal that can protect the lives of wild horses and burros in government holding facilities while both controlling numbers on the range and phasing out BLM’s decades-old practice of capturing, removing and warehousing of America’s wild horses.