The Bureau of Land Management announced on Wednesday that it intends to go forward with performing spay surgeries on wild mares despite its research partner, Colorado State University, pulling out of a study in Oregon.
Return to Freedom adamantly opposes costly, unproven sterilization surgeries for wild mares and jennies – surgeries that both threaten the lives of individual animals and the diversity and health of entire herds.
We will not stand for this. These surgeries are inhumane, fiscally irresponsible and wholly untenable on the range.
But to stop them from happening, we need your help.
As part of an upcoming roundup at the Warm Springs Herd Management Area in Oregon, BLM intends to perform ovariectomies via colpotomy. This is a rare procedure which removes the ovaries by crushing and pulling them out with a looped-chain medical instrument called an ecraseur. This surgery exposes the mares to: serious risk from infection; evisceration (should intestines come through the incision); and hemorrhaging.
There is a high frequency of post-operative complications affiliated with ovariectomy via colpotomy, some of which can be life-threatening. Most domestic horses this surgery is performed on are hospitalized for three to seven days and require careful monitoring for signs of hemorrhage.
The study is part of a push by BLM and some members of Congress to normalize sterilization surgeries as part of the agency’s wild horse and burro management “toolbox.”
BLM included sterilization surgeries as a component of all four management options that it presented this spring in a report to Congress, and the House included an amendment to an appropriations bill that would allow the Secretary of the Interior to decide whether a herd is made single-sex or non-reproducing. At a recent meeting with Rep. Chris Stewart and other stakeholders, RTF strongly opposed this provision, which compromises the natural lifestyle and well-being of America’s herds.
The sterilization effort comes even as it was revealed that in May BLM quietly altered its sales policy to allow buyers to purchase up to 25 wild horses or burros at a time with no waiting period, no oversight, and no questions asked. The policy replaces a sale limit of no more than four horses every six months without special permission.
With the new ability to purchase many wild horses and burros at once, an untold number of wild horses and burros may have already been sold to kill buyers.
Return to Freedom continues to sit down with the Department of the Interior / BLM, members of Congress, and other stakeholders in a good-faith effort to forge a sustainable future for wild horses and burros. RTF supports the use of safe, proven fertility control vaccines as one component of a move to a humane management approach for wild horses and burros on the range.
Such fragile talks are placed in jeopardy when the very government agency charged with protecting America’s wild horses and burros works with advocates on politically viable proposals in one room while simultaneously pursuing practices that needlessly threaten their lives in the next.
Please join us in speaking out — take action today!