Wild mare nursing her newborn foal
by Carol Walker, Director of Field Documentation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation
The BLM has announced its plan to work with Oregon State University in experimenting upon 225 wild mares at the Hines, Oregon BLM Short Term Holding Facility starting in February 2016. The information about this was NOT posted on the Burns, Oregon website and was very hard to find, buried in a new BLM website. It is a very long document:
Please do read it if you have time and a strong stomach.
I will summarize what I think are the important points to hit on if you going to comment on the plan. The BLM will not listen to any of us, and would clearly prefer not to have any public comments or knowledge about the plan, but it IS important to make our voices heard and to get the word out that the BLM’s cruel, inhumane torture of and experimentation on our wild horses is absolutely not acceptable. It in no way conforms to the minimally intrusive management on the range that the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971 was passed to ensure.
Comments are due Wednesday, February 10, and there is an online comment form that they want you to use to make your comments. It says that the form resets after 60 minutes, so it might be a good idea to type them out first, copy them, and then paste them in. But you can just type them into the form. Here is the comment form:
There are three methods of sterilizing wild mares that the BLM would like to test out. They are ovariectomy via colpotomy, tubal ligation and hyteroscopically-guided laser ablation. The last two procedures the BLM describes as “minimally invasive” but they have never been done on wild mares before. The ovariectomy via colpotomy is not commonly done with domestic mares, but when it is, it is done in a sterile environment and the mares are not pregnant. They are also not wild. There is nothing sterile about a holding facility, and these are wild mares that are going to be absolutely terrified by being confined in this chute and having an incision made in their vaginas so the veterinarian’s arm can reach in and rip out their ovaries. The possibility of the mares panicking despite the sedation is high, and they could break their necks in the chute. They can also die from sedation, or their hearts can stop from sheer terror. The possibility of infection and death resulting from complications is also a risk. And then this is the worst part. Since their ultimate plan is to surgically sterilize mares in the field like at White Mountain in Wyoming, and likely many mares in the wild will be pregnant, they want to experiment on mares who are pregnant to see what will happen – will they abort the foal? Will there be other complications? This is very likely in the early pregnancy group, and also likely in the middle phase. They will divide the mares into groups: 0-4 months pregnant, 4-8 months pregnant, over 8 months pregnant, and not pregnant, or “open.” Although they have plenty of wild mares to experiment upon at the holding facility in Hines, as the mares have been there for some time they do not have pregnant mares in all the phases available – so they will have a helicopter roundup or two to get more experimental subjects. They will use at least one and possibly all three methods of sterilization in the study.
I question the morals and ethics of the veterinarians at Oregon State University who will be performing these procedures on pregnant wild mares. I would never want them to provide care to my horses.
“Unnecessary surgery is a type of medical malpractice. A form of medical malpractice that has become an alarming and growing problem in the U.S. is unnecessary surgery. This type of malpractice can lead to life-threatening complications and completely alter an individual’s life. When a surgeon performs an unnecessary surgery, it is an act of medical negligence. Doctors should take every precaution before deciding to prescribe any type of invasive surgery to a patient. When there is a failure to do this and it results in unnecessary surgery, they may be held legally liable. Unnecessary surgery can lead to serious or even life-threatening complications. Some of the risks include hemorrhaging, damage to organs, infection, amputation and anesthesia errors. Putting animals through unnecessary surgery where they face complications that could significantly alter their life is a form of medical negligence. Injuries from this kind of negligence could result in filing a medical malpractice claim.”
Our wild horses do not themselves have a voice. We have to speak for them. This is the first of many studies on sterilization of wild horses that the BLM plans to perform over the next few years, attempting to solve their “wild horse problem.” I contend that there is no wild horse problem, but a “BLM problem.” Wild horse herds that have less than the number of horses in them to remain genetically viable (less than at least 150 adults) should not have any form of birth control used on them. For larger herds whose numbers have to be kept at a certain level, there are proven, humane, minimally invasive and reversible forms of birth control that have been being used for over 30 years. Native PZP and PZP-22 are being used successfully on several herds right now. Why aren’t these methods being used with more herds and why is the BLM bent on permanently sterilizing our wild horses? Because it wears off after 1-2 years and you have to keep darting the mares – the wild horse and burro specialists and Field Office staff members would actually have to get out there in the field and observe, document and keep track of the horses. And yes this IS possible, and yes many people would volunteer to help if our horses were being managed in a humane, sustainable manner on the range.
But it is easier to sterilize our wild horses – this is the endgame for the BLM. We must fight to stop this. We must fight to save our wild horses. Every voice counts.
Please comment. Use your own words. Tell the BLM what you think of their plan – and tell them to stop experimenting on our wild horses, and to stop sterilizing them. Treat them like living, feeling creatures who deserve our care and respect, and deserve to live their lives wild and free in their homes, on our public lands, with their families.
Public comments will be accepted on the EA through February 3, 2016. Comments can be emailed, mailed or faxed to the BLM Burns Office at the addresses below. Entire comments – including personal identifying information – may be published as part of the EA and Decision Record process. Mail or deliver to:
Mare Sterilization Research Project Lead
(541) 573-4411 BLM Burns District Office
28910 Highway 20 West
Hines, Oregon 97738
Fax: (541) 573-4411 — Attention: Mare Sterilization Research Project Lead
BLM Burns District Office