Save Our Wild Horses – Stop the Sterilization

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Photo of Carol’s mustang Cremosso, in the wild with his mother

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

Why should you care about the BLM‘s plans to surgically sterilize 225 wild mares in a holding facility in Hines, Oregon?

They have already lost their families and their freedom, and are for the most part forgotten by the public, after the roundup ended.  Now they are slated to become experimental subjects, pawns of the BLM’s war on wild horses.  Ovariectomy via colpotomy is an outdated, cruel, dangerous and gruesome method to remove the ovaries from wild mares, and in the process of using it on mares in various stages of pregnancy, many mares will develop infections and complications, will abort their foals and even die.

Of course as compassionate human beings we should care about the unnecessary suffering of these wild mares who are powerless to protect themselves.

Here is another big reason why you should care.  The BLM has been proceeding for years along the path to eliminate America’s wild horses.  These experiments in sterilization will provide the blueprint for this systematic destruction of the remaining wild horses herds in our country.  It is not enough that wild horses have lost 19 million acres where they used to roam free.  With sterilization procedures firmly in hand, the BLM’s path to manage our wild horses to extinction has been mapped out.

I am not going to talk about PZP anymore.  I am not going to beg the BLM to do something less intrusive in hopes that at least some horses will be saved.  Birth control is not the issue here.  Most of our wild horse herds number below the numbers of adults that will sustain genetic viability anyway.  There is no overpopulation of wild horses.  There is a management problem on the part of the BLM who is blatantly disregarding the directives of the 1971 Free-Roaming horse and Burro Act, which requires that wild horses “be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.”  “Range” is “the amount of land necessary to sustain an existing herd or herds of wild free-roaming horses and burros, which does not exceed their known territorial limits, and which is devoted principally but not necessarily exclusively to their welfare, in keeping with the multiple-use management concept for public lands.”

What needs to be done?  Livestock grazing leases in Wild Horses Herd Management Areas need to be retired.  When livestock grazing consumes over 80% of the forage in a Wild Horse Herd Management Area, it is not being managed “principally” for wild horses.  If public lands are truly mixed use then one special interest group should not be allowed to influence all of the decisions made for use of the land.

We can all agree that sterilization is a bad plan, an extreme “management tool” that gives the BLM the ability to cruelly and permanently eradicate wild horses from our public lands.  So I call on everyone to speak out against sterilization.  I will not “work with” the BLM, signing gag order “memorandums of understanding” that preclude my outspoken criticism of their methods and goals as long as their goals are so far divided from my own.  I want to see wild horses continue to exist in their families in the areas where they have lived and adapted to, and to thrive and be a source of inspiration to every American.

“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable.  We can never have enough of nature.”

Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

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Eleven years ago, Carol began photographing wild horses. As she followed several herds in Wyoming, Colorado and Montana, she became aware of how precarious their situation on public lands has become. Since then, she has dedicated herself to educating people with her photographs and stories about the wild horses. She is one of the leading advocates working to keep America’s wild horses wild and free on our public lands. Her award-winning book Wild Hoofbeats: America’s Vanishing Wild Horses The book was released winter of 2008 and is currently in its third printing. Carol’s second book, Horse Photography: The Dynamic Guide for Horse Lovers is in its second printing. Carol’s third book, Mustangs: Wild Horses at the Heart of the American Legend was published in October 2014 in France.

Carol Walker’s blog is wildhoofbeats.com and her books and photographs can be purchased at livingimagescjw.com