Horse News

Letter to Editor: It’s Not Really a Wild Horse Ecosanctuary

Source: Letter to Wyoming‘s Star Tribune

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation


Your feature on BLM’s Deerwood Ranch wild horse sanctuary, near Centennial (“Rancher offers sanctuary to wild horses,” July 13) left me feeling conflicted.

On one hand, this ecosanctuary gives 228 once-wild stallions a safe, comfortable life, the bliss of freedom, and even the opportunity to be named and anthropomorphized by two compassionate caretakers (Jana and Rich Wilson).

On the other hand, these geldings have been forever removed from their in-the-wild environment with all the accoutrements of evolution-based social organization, for example, normal breeding and band behavior. Ripped from their family bands, they are adjusting to a new existence that excludes mares and their progeny. In essence, they are no longer “wild” horses, albeit they are called “wild” by the Bureau of Land Management in its promotion of tourism.

While it may not be intended, tourists are being deceived into thinking they are observing true wild horses on these areas, but, in fact, natural behaviors are lost once a horse is no longer intact. The visiting public is not in a true ecosanctuary but a rather large barnyard inhabited by horses that are ghosts of their former selves —  no different from domesticated horses one could find on any ranch or backyard.

Fertility control does not and should not mean irreversible sterilization. Reversible contraceptives have been available for wild horse mares for more than 23 years, including native porcine zona pellucida, registered by the EPA as ZonaStat-H. It would work well in smaller herds through use of remote darting. It is safe, effective, and reversible. More importantly, it preserves wild behavior and gene pools in wild horse herds. I would condone wild horse ecosanctuaries, if immunocontraceptives were applied to keep reproduction in check.

Let us hope the Wyoming BLM learned a lesson from the earlier wild horse sanctuary (Wild Horses Wyoming) it established near Centennial in 2005 near Sheep Mountain, Centennial. It was a disaster, with horses starving and dehydrating from poor range conditions and inadequate animal care. It could happen again.


Click (HERE) to comment at the Tribune

12 replies »

  1. It is a shame when the beautiful Stallions are gelded and removed from their families and way of life ! The BLM need to stop destroying the wild horses and burros. They should leave them on the land they live on and remove the cattle and sheep. They are the ones that destroy the land not the wild horses and burros.


  2. Another example of our Government , corruption. The unimformed will say “isn’t it great how the BLM IS TAKING CARE OF THE WILD HORSES.”


  3. “OUCH!!!”…Ms Fazio. Excellently articulated, but not that the evil or dead heads (no, not grateful dead fans) care or get it.

    Very important that it is said…when will our elected officials and majority population get sick and tired of hearing this outrage and ignoring the holocaust?


  4. Seems the BLM can’t please anyone. These ecosanctuaries are better than long/short term facilities, at least they can act like horse’s again. Maybe not “intact” but better than being in prison.
    Yes, our money is being spent but I sure would rather it’s spent at an ecosanctuary than a long/short term facility. The couple seems really true to heart, in taking care and loving that the horse’s are on their property. I thank the couple for taking it upon themselves to do the best they can.


    • Ummmmm…I believe your “altruistic” couple is getting reimbursed, right?….by taxpayers via BLM….right? Well, then it doesn’t make them noble; it makes them profiteers.

      And I don’t share your choice between “necessary” evils; they should never have been rounded up in the first place, sterilized in the second place and placed on private lands when they had millions of acres assigned and then stolen from them as the original sin.


  5. I doubt the BLM is really TRYING to please anyone – other than themselves. Yes, the horses are being treated much better & cared for much better than in the STF/LTF. BUT they’ve done nothing to deserve being gelded & removed from their families & the lives they used to live. But I guess better here than being in “prison”. I do wonder what happens to all the mares & foals – we don’t seem to hear much about the herds of mares – just geldings.


  6. I think the article is well written and to the point. BLM is destroying the herds, arranging payment to farmer friends for housing geldings, and deceiving the American tourist with flimflam wild west shows. Anything to make a buck. Wanna buy some snake oil? And no one stops them—an out of control juggernaut of destruction. Hey Sally— you going to step up or what?


  7. Bunch of geldings are pretty dam boring. They were once exiciting stallions roaming the range with their family bands. Now they are prisioners. Sure maybe the accomodations are better than over crowded pens that the BLM use. I feel that the BLM is playing God.


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