Return to Freedom’s lawsuit stops plan to engage in illegal surgery on wild mares

/ In The News, News
Photo taken at RTF’s Lompoc, Calif., headquarters sanctuary by Irene Vejar.

The Bureau of Land Management Decides Not to Proceed with Invasive Program Challenged by Return to Freedom

April 19, 2021 (Washington, D.C.) – Return to Freedom (RTF) has been victorious in its efforts to stop barbaric surgeries and illegal research on wild horse mares rounded up from the Confusion Herd in Utah. When the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced its plans, RTF was the first group to sue the BLM, which was trying this illegal action for the third time.  Today RTF was contacted by lawyers for the BLM who stated that the BLM would not be proceeding with the surgeries.  The controversial and dangerous surgeries – known as ovariectomy via colpotomy – involves the blind grasping of female horses’ ovaries, twisting and pulling them out of their bodies.  RTF was not willing to stand by and let this happen, and filed suit in December.

“I am proud that RTF led the charge against this horrible plan, that not only could have hurt and killed horses pulled from the Utah herds but set a dangerous precedent in wild horse management. We hope that this means the new administration will turn the corner towards a more humane plan for wild horses with a focus on proven, safe and humane fertility control methods for which RTF has been lobbying for 20 years. We commend the BLM and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland for this wise decision,” Neda DeMayo, RTF’s President and Founder, stated when she heard the news.

RTF has been involved with actions on multiple fronts to stop the surgical sterilization of wild horses, which violates the federal Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, and subjects these majestic animals to inhumane and unwarranted procedures. RTF has long been a proponent of the use of non-hormonal, reversible contraception for wild horses, to slow population growth and stabilize herds. RTF hopes that this decision suggests the administration will be taking RTF’s extensive lobbying in this area to heart. 

DeMayo said, “this decision, while a victory for RTF and the Confusion Herd mares, is hopefully just the beginning of a new vision for America’s wild horses and burros, and an era of more considered treatment and humane programs and the work RTF has been doing to shift the BLM and Congress away from the current paradigm of capture and removal and minimally intrusive, on-the-range management.” 

RTF filed its lawsuit in December, represented by Bruce Wagman and Erin Gasparka of the law firm of Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila.

“This is a great day for the Confusion Herd horses, and I hope a new day for wild horses across America,” said De Mayo. The BLM and RTF have agreed to a 60-day stay of the litigation while the government finalizes its position.

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About RTF

Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation (RTF) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to wild horse preservation through sanctuary, education, conservation, and advocacy since 1998. It also operates the American Wild Horse Sanctuary at four California locations, caring for well over 500 wild horses and burros. Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for updates about wild horses and burros on the range and at our sanctuary.

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