Horse News

Wild Horses: BLM’s Sterilization Studies are Barbaric and Unnecessary

SOURCE:  Wild Hoofbeats

by Carol Walker, Director of Field Documentation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The BLM has released more information about its proposed studies of wild horses, that they will be initiating 21 research studies for population control. They will be spending $11 million on these studies which will include  spaying of mares, gelding of stallions, chemical castration of stallions, chemical sterilization of stallions, and drugs causing permanent sterilization of mares. These barbaric practices will be performed in the field. The risk of infection and trauma to the wild horses is severe, especially with the likelihood of no medical follow up after these procedures.

The 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act requires managing wild horses and burros in order to maintain sustainable herds. Sterilization is counter to this requirement, and will inevitably lead to the ultimate extinction of our wild horses and burros. The current plans of the BLM require managing 78% of wild horse and burro herds in 10 western states at below genetically viable levels, which require least 150 adults in a herd.

Experimenting on our wild horses and burros is cruel, inhumane and absolutely unnecessary. There are proven methods of birth control that are safe and humane including PZP which has been studied for over 40 years. The Pryor Mountain Herd in Montana, the McCullough Peaks Herd in Wyoming, the Spring Creek Herd and Little Bookcliffs Herd in Colorado are all using PZP to successfully manage population growth, but the BLM refuses to use PZP on other herds.

Earlier this year I traveled to Washington D.C. with other groups to meet with BLM Director Niel Kornze and Deputy Assistant Director Mike Tupper to discuss solutions to wild horse and burro issues. Some of our recommendations included a significant expansion of  the number of mares treated with PZP in order to make a difference in population levels as well as possible voluntary retirement of livestock grazing permits in Herd Management Areas. We also discussed returning wild horses currently housed in Long and Short Term Holding facilities to Herd Areas that had been zeroed out. We offered to work with the BLM, and to find volunteers to help.

Mike Tupper was supposed to respond to our proposals but as yet has failed to do so. Instead, the BLM is embarking upon these sterilization studies, without public comment, without oversight, without protection for our wild horses and burros.

Despite the fact that these sterilization studies have been in the works for over a year (first announced in August 2014), the BLM has not released the names of the herds that will be experimented upon, nor have they responded to queries about this.

Sand Wash Basin Stallions - soon to be sterilized?

This unwillingness to work with wild horse advocates and commitment to dangerous and inhumane treatment of our wild horses clearly demonstrates the BLM’s ultimate goal – the destruction of our wild horse and burro herds.

23 replies »

  1. There is nothing to like about any of this !
    The BLM needs to be removed from watching over the Wild Horse and Burro Herds…BLM plans on removing or killing off all Wild Horses and Burros, just so that the cattle and sheep herds can take over all the land that was awarded to the Wild Horse and Burro Herds ! Years from now the only wild horses or burros that any child or adult will be able to see will be in books…the only horses or burros to be seen will be the ones owned my people or that have been put in Zoos ! Please whom ever can stop this…STOP THE BLM FROM DESTROYING OUR WILD HORSE AND BURRO HERDS !!!


  2. STOP THE BLM….Before there are no more Wild Horse and Burro Herds…No MORE DECENT LAND REMAINING IN THE WILD !!!


  3. This is all coming down from the top, at the D.C level…..Orders from Headquarters
    These are OUR Wild Horses & Burros and OUR Public Lands

    This Land was Your Land (excerpts)

    I talked with a half-dozen former bureau employees in Utah who told me their working environment was one of constant harassment and pressure from the legislature, county governments, and industry. One described BLM district managers-the BLM’s in-state bosses-as “totally compromised” by industry.

    “There is pressure to not regulate, to not do your job,” Dennis Willis, a retired BLM range conservationist and recreation manager who worked for the agency for 34 years, told me when I met him at his home in Price, a hundred miles west of the Book Cliffs-East Tavaputs. He wanted to show me the result of the lack of regulation on bureau land around Price. We drove in his truck out of town and up a winding road onto a sun-crushed expanse of pygmy pines and sagebrush scrub known as Wood Hill. We stopped at a well, one of dozens in a complex on BLM land leased to the Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, a $52 billion Texas-based energy company with operations on five continents. His long beard and hair whipping about in the desert wind, Willis brandished a Bic lighter and joked that I should spark the flint to see if the site was leaking natural gas. The explosion, he said, would send us and the wellhead to hell and back.

    “My big issue with oil and gas on public lands is that industry is like Vikings approaching a coastal village,” Willis said. “It’s rape and pillage.”


  4. They don’t need to do studies. US Fish and Wildlife has already done these things. We have what’s left of the Sheldon herd, and there are spayed mares, vasectomized studs, etc. Come study this herd of horses and see the effects it has on them.


  5. This Land was Your Land (excerpts)

    ““Whose task is it to say that a species is not important? Which ones do you want to throw away? All species that are endemic are important”

    When I called up retired BLM archaeologist Blaine Miller, who worked in the Price office as a specialist in Native American rock art, he told me that he had been punished for opposing energy development in the Price area. He had warned as early as 2002 about the probability of dust and vibration from oil and gas traffic ruining thousand-year-old petroglyphs in Nine Mile Canyon, a gorge near Price sometimes called the world’s longest art gallery. Miller told me that he had drafted “letters of consultation” to be added to the environmental assessments his bosses in Price required for the approval of energy leases in and around Nine Mile Canyon. “Those letters never left the office,” Miller says. “They were thrown away. My boss called me in and said he was told that the state office is going to lease these parcels no matter what, and you’re going to rewrite your analysis so they can do that. The environmental assessment had to reflect that decision. I told him I can’t do that and I won’t do that.” Miller claims his Utah BLM managers engaged in “criminal fraud” when they falsely signed his name to a report showing no effects from energy development on the archaeological finds in Nine Mile Canyon. He says he was subsequently removed from commenting on any development project in the area.
    Native vegetation had been decimated, birds and mammals chased away or killed off, streams and rivers polluted. Fish were dying, the air was full of poisons, and the once-clear skies of the region had been dimmed with smog. He claimed that mismanagement at the Vernal district over the past decade had resulted in the loss of a candidate species for the endangered list called the mountain plover, which nests in the short-grass prairie and high desert. “That was the state’s only population,” he told me.

    “Whose task is it to say that a species is not important? Which ones do you want to throw away? All species that are endemic are important. That’s part of the agency’s mission


    Gubmint Cheese (excerpts)

    The NCA’s Monthly Message also showcases
    Past President BOYD SPRATLING, currently masquerading as a Representative of Veterinary Medicine on the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board.

    Dr. SPRATLING (or is it Past President SPRATLING?) has been busy providing testimony on wild horses in the Interim Public Lands Committee and recently met with Senator Ensign to discuss wild horses and the “El Paso/WWP” situation. (It would seem Senator Ensign is incapable of recognizing a conflict of interest situation even if it is sitting on his lap….)

    This is the same BOYD SPRATLING
    who refused to address, much less develop, humane handling guidelines for helicopter rounds ups back in 2007 and who stated the deaths of almost 200 wild horses from the Jackson Mountain were the results of “The very people that claim to care the most about those horses were actually the ones driving the death nail in their coffin”.

    This same ex-President SPRATLING also developed the current BLM approved
    Refused to participate in repeated requests regarding review of BLM management plans and AML decisions for our wild herds,
    Ignored evidence indicating BLMs on the range wild horse and burro population data is in error and
    Failed to address critical issues found within new census techniques now being used to substantiate biologically impossible populations.


  7. BLM Solicits Sterilization of Wild Horses
    by Debbie Coffey, Director of Wild Horse Affairs for Wild Horse Freedom Federation
    Oct 30 2013

    The BLM, with DEAN BOLSTAD
    as the Program Office Point of Contact (POC), continues to waste tax dollars on experimentation on wild horses & burros, which is a clear violation of the Wild Free Roaming Horse & Burro Act of 1971. The BLM is NOT protecting wild horses when it uses them for experimentation (under the guise of “research”).


    Wild horse sterilization plan “disgraceful”

    “The experimental surgical procedure was tested on wild mares in the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in Northern Nevada with a 10 per cent mortality rate and recovery taking at least a month,” the (Cloud) foundation said.

    Veterinarian Donald Moore, of Fruita, Colorado, said: “BLM’s approval to spay wild mares living on public land lacks any humane consideration for the animal.

    “This is a very invasive procedure and most veterinarians are reluctant, at best, to even recommend it.”


  9. Oh My God. Somebody please stop us? We can’t seem to stop with our gruesome experiments on others. We can no longer do these things to other humans, but no one stops us from doing these evil and unethical things to others. We just have it in our natures. If it is wrong to perform experiments on humans, why is it still ok to do it to non-humans?


    • Have you missed what planned parenthood is doing? Humans have not stopped anything—just haven’t gotten caught YET.


      • No, I hadn’t been following that. Ugh. I really feel late-term abortions should be banned. How sad. Preventing conception in the first place should be the priority.


  10. From Ecology Law Currents

    A National Injustice: The Federal Government’s Systematic Removal and Eradication of an American Icon

    Only under limited circumstances can the BLM actually remove horses from their designated herd area. While certain requirements are unclear and highly disputed, the agency must follow a multistep process to address wild horse populations.
    First, the BLM must obtain reliable information about the herd, environment and range conditions.
    From that evaluation they establish the AML, the appropriate number of horses for the land at issue. The AML is used to determine if “an overpopulation exists.”
    Next, “excess” animals must be identified.


    • Louie, have they ever actually DONE a “multistep” process yet? This whole experimentation effort is just wrong! (of course we all know that).


  11. Mares in the Sand Wash herd in CO have also been darted for a number of years now. The Sand Wash Advocate Team (SWAT) is collaborating in this effort with the BLM. It is described as an “on the range project of the Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary, working with the BLM to support the land and wild horses of Sand Wash Basin.”

    Interestingly enough, birth rates expressed as percentages are available only post roundup and darting, which as I understand it was implemented in 2008 or 2009. One is left without knowing what the birth rates were that prompted the darting, and without a useful data set to understand the effects of same. Poor science at best.


    • Only 95 mares were darted this year. HSUS had done a 5 year study there on the use of PZP on 60 mares, however the rest of the mares were not darted. There are over 500 horses there now, the herd is over AML and they do not have enough man power to dart all the mares. They are also darting them in May and June, the wrong time of the year. The head of the BLM Field Office there, Wendy Reynolds, applied for a chemical sterilization of stallions study in August 2014, despite the fact that they have been trying to control the numbers with PZP.


      • Good information but I still haven’t had any success deterring the proven birth rate percentages in the Sand Wash herd PRIOR to the darting, which seems to be basic science and would have informed the need for darting in the first place. We have all seen horses under PZP study removed from the nearby WY checkerboard, which skews any resulting herd data. Further experimenting on stallions in such an uncontrolled situation would seem to be something less than useless.


      • So we have stallions that were chemically or surgically sterilized by US Fish and Wildlife over the years, and both spayed and unspayed mares. I will let you know next spring whether the sterilization of the stallions works or not.


      • BLM needs to leave the mares and stallions alone ! Just because you are in the pockets of the cattle and sheep herders, that does not mean that you need to kill off all of the wild horses and burros ! BLM NEEDS TO STOP MESSING WITH THE WILD HORSES AND BURROS BEFORE THERE ARE NO MORE !!!


  12. Maggie, I’m not sure this answers your question, but there is a lot of good information in this article.


    BLM’s Final Solution for the Wild Horses and Burros

    “BLM knew the aggressive sterilization of mares would mean an increased death rate of at least 10% and admitted that “herd behavior would be out the window”.
    and admitted, in effect, these aggressive sterilization plans would not only be potentially dangerous to the wild horses and burros, destructive of their herds and families, BUT ALSO ILLEGAL and ultimately cause their extinction.


    • Thanks, Louie – I did see this information early on – so underhanded & wrong! And I have to say the information in this article has been ” out there” before. Now – thanks to a couple real winners (politicians) our wonderful representatives want to hand over the wild horses & burros to states & indian tribes – which, hard as it is to believe, probably would be worse than the BLM – well, maybe not worse, but just as bad!


  13. Our government bureaucracy is not going to listen to wise or well thought out plans with cost savings to the public. They are rooted in improving jobs for themselves and a narrow and specific constituency. Who will benefit economically from these experiments? A group of animal vets in particular that probably cannot hold down a practice? If the ones who have received the grants are traced, you will likely see this proven.


  14. This is all so contrary to the 1971 law and the BLM needs to stop before they completely destroy all of our mustangs.


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