Horse Health

New Information Reveals Unreported Death in Experimental Wild Mare/Burro Sterilizations performed by Dr. Leon Pielstick

Source: The Cloud Foundation

Dr. Pielstick is scheduled to perform mare sterilization research at Oregon State University

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Colorado Springs, CO – On May 10, The Cloud Foundation (TCF) received a call from an unnamed Phoenix resident who had witnessed deadly burro and mare sterilization operations performed in Arizona last month by Dr. Leon Pielstick, DVM, the veterinarian slated to perform such procedures on hundreds of wild mares and foals, currently being held in the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Hines, Oregon corrals. The BLM funded mare sterilization operations would be undertaken through a BLM grant to Oregon State University (OSU).

I received a call last week from a person who attended the surgeries,” explains Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of TCF. “According to the caller, the burros formerly roamed wild on the Lake Pleasant Herd Management Area north of Phoenix. The caller, who wishes to remain anonymous, had hoped that the surgeries might be a humane and effective field population control for burros, stating that there have been burros involved in accidents on highways near Lake Pleasant. The caller said that Dr. Pielstick told them that the procedure was ‘safe.’  The caller said, – “now we’ve done that (the ovariectomies), there are too many complications.”

The ovariectomy surgeries on the handful of female burros and one mare resulted in one of the burros bleeding out (evisceration) and the mare dying two days later. To date TCF has been unable to find out whether the other burros are alive. They were believed to have suffered serious infection.

In an ongoing effort to halt BLM-funded, inhumane sterilization research on wild mares (procedures rarely used on domestic mares that can be easily handled and given necessary after care), the Cloud Foundation, other humane organizations, and thousands of Americans have been in communication with OSU, urging them to abandon the research project.

Dr. Lisa Jacobson, DVM from Berthoud, Co states.  “As an equine veterinarian I’m in shock that the BLM, veterinarians, and OSU are even considering the mare sterilization techniques being proposed. These techniques are abusive & incredibly negligent.”  Dr. Jacobson has worked with both wild and domestic equines for years. According to Jacobson, “The Colpotomy procedure is so barbaric and risky that I have never been behind it–with domestic mares–let alone wild mares. Laproscopic spaying is in no way a procedure to be done in a non-clinical environment, with no follow up management (the least being pain management. How can this even be considered for wild mares? . . . As far as I’m concerned, this is a deadly cocktail of risk factors.”

Dr. Don Moore, equine veterinarian with decades of experience stated, “Mass experimental surgeries performed under these conditions outlined in the proposal, amounts to negligence and abuse. I believe experiments such as this proposal are unethical, inhumane and unwarranted. Any veterinarian(s) who would perform these experiments is in violation of the oath (Page 3) taken as a graduating veterinarian, ‘above all else, do no harm.’ ”

TCF continues to encourage BLM to finally embrace “on the range management” of wild horses and burros with economical, safe, effective, non-invasive fertility control vaccines, namely PZP. Herds being managed on the range are avoiding roundups and removals. “The idea is that any foal born wild, is allowed to live its life in precious freedom,” Kathrens concludes. “What OSU and BLM are preparing to do to these wild mares and foals is unthinkably cruel.”


Comments Dr. LisaJacobson, DVM 

Comments Dr. DonMoore, DVM.


Lake Pleasant BurroHMA

Population Control in Wild Horses LeonPielstick DVM

39 replies »

  1. Reblogged this on nk4g2 and commented:
    “Dr. Don Moore, equine veterinarian with decades of experience stated, “Mass experimental surgeries performed under these conditions outlined in the proposal, amounts to negligence and abuse. I believe experiments such as this proposal are unethical, inhumane and unwarranted. Any veterinarian(s) who would perform these experiments is in violation of the oath (Page 3) taken as a graduating veterinarian, ‘above all else, do no harm.’ ”


  2. Unbelievable and sick!! Is this vet so hard up for work and money? And where did the carcassas go? Did they bury or take away the proof of death? I think a full accountability is required here. I know my vet and I have had this conversation about this procedure and he has stated it is very dangerous and should not be done on any horses. What do we need to stop this holocast on our Wild Horses and Burros? Who in the Hell gives these people the right? Inhumane and unbelievable!


    • Of course he is Gail. Pielstick is no different from a 19th century snake-oil-selling quack with his itinerant equine torture freak show. Doesn’t people find suspicious that, whenever it is heard about mare surgical sterilizations, this man is always involved?

      The whole mare sterilization program is nothing but a payola for him and his associates who are just milking the BLM cash cow… and I might add you don’t get these yummy government contracts without the right contacts.


  3. Making them sterile with PZP is just killing them out slowly. If you agree to this then you are sadly doing the BLM’s bidding. Charges should be filed over the murders of these animals and we MUST start fighting for our wild ones, instead of joining the BLM in their final stage of the Salazar Plan


  4. WTF? How does someone get invited to observe this in the first place (presumably not open to the public, who owns and pays for managing wild horses and burros, and these barbaric “experiments”) and then, why is it impossible to get timely information? How many died? How many are now disappeared (and as someone else noted, where are the carcasses?) How many are suffering from infections? How many were the unlucky chosen for this spectacle?

    Why is there never any accountability? We need to hold their paychecks until they at least publish the basics, I understand the “research” paper may take longer but accountability, especially now, should be the first commandment from “we, the people.”

    Unbelievable. If they want any public buy-in on their results they should be bending over backwards to be openly disclosing what they are doing, instead, we are the ones that keep bending over and allowing this to continue without accountability. Shame on us.


  5. Sent another comment to Ms. Sagers (Research dept?) including the 2 veterinarians who commented in an earlier post. Hopefully I wont be the only one.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What I do find more surprising about this is the fact that, as far as I know, no public comments period, EA or similar was posted by BLM to conduct these experiments on Arizona. Where is the scoping notice and the EA? Who authorized Pielstick to do these experiments in AZ and under which authority / land management plan?

    Was he just invited do these sterilizations on some of the equines BLM had in corrals for the shake of it, kind of in a “casual fashion”? Which money was used to pay him (because I doubt he did it for free) and who authorized this spending? Where are the papers?

    If he was just allowed to do this because some BLM bureaucrat in Lake Pleasant HMA liked the idea then we can be fearing for the worst…


    • Daniel, I think this is one of several funded BLM adventures which came about in response to the PNAS study from 2013 (?) which castigated them for not using enough “science” in their decision-making processes. So I guess experimenting with how fast and how many will die from a known risky procedure must qualify as “science” ala Mengele.


    • Exactly what I was thinking. Was there even an article beforehand letting the public know that this was going to happen? I knew nothing about the BLM conducting experiments on these burros in particular up until now although Steve Moss did make mention of possibly doing ovariectomies on some of the mares among other things, but it was only talked about, not planned out — I wonder if he has something to do with this and if there are other things going on with these burros that we are currently unaware of.


  7. All the mares and unborn foals will die. OSU is getting paid $51 million to kill them. THIS MUST NOT BE ALLOWED!


  8. One Donkey bled to death

    “It is also worth noting that the number of learning surgeons entering the body cavity
    of those burros could have contributed to the one in five mortality rate for those

    Assessment of spay techniques for mares in field conditions
    Panel meeting held at USGS Fort Collins Science Center
    September 24, 2015

    Regina Turner: What is the effect of operator experience?
    This is a practical technique. Leon taught 9 vets in Arizona when spaying 5 donkeys. Any vet who generally works with equine reproduction can pick it up, however there is a learning curve.

    On one donkey they had trouble getting the left ovary out, after they
    finally succeeded the donkey bled to death.

    Are there enough trained people?

    Plenty of vets would be interested in learning the technique. If there is a complication it can be used as a learning experience to avoid future complications. There were
    complications with the donkeys as multiple people were learning how to do it. The
    chance of complications increases with the number of times you go in and out of the

    It seems as though the training contributed significantly to the mortality there?
    If there are unusual situations then generally complications arise, and this is used as a learning curve to create a better procedure.

    It is also worth noting that the number of learning surgeons entering the body cavity
    of those burros could have contributed to the one in five mortality rate for those
    burros. Dr. Asa noted that one of the major complications could have been the
    training itself.


  9. I think the person that tipped the Cloud Foundation to what was going on was one of the possibly student Vets that was there and saw what happened. They didn’t want identified because it might effect their career so they did it anonymously. What could be done is contact the group in AZ that worked so hard to protect the Salt River Wild Horses because there is a politician that helped to introduce a bill to protect the horses and the Governor signed it. This was committed in AZ so you might be able to find out just what happened to the horses this butchery was done on.


    • That would have been great, but the thing is that Rep. Kelly Townsend, the one who created the bill to protect the Salt River wild horses, is a “state” representative and she’s from AZ Legislative District 16 which is in central AZ near Phoenix, further east than where the burros are. Being that the burros are supposedly protected (or are at least supposed to be protected) under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, a federal law, a “federal” representative or senator may have to come up with a piece of legislation for these animals. It breaks my heart because Rep. Townsend is someone I feel could have been trusted to take care of this situation IF she was a federal representative, but I’m afraid that she might not be able to. Sadly, AZ has a couple of two-faced flip-flops for federal senators: John McCain and Jeff Flake. They once appeared to be in favor of wild horses and burros, but now they’ve changed their positions. Unless the federal representative in that area happens to be good person with the ability to come up with something to secure protections for these burros. Still, excellent thinking on your part!


      • Rep. Raúl Grijalva is for wild horses big time. I don’t that’s his district either but that shouldn’t be a problem. And he is a federal Rep.


  10. I had previously heard through the grapevine that someone that went to one of those BLM sponsored “teaching programs” said that everyone in the class stuck their arms up inside on the SAME burro to practice squeezing and destroying the ovaries as a method of sterilization. I was told the burro died. What they did and are doing is absolutely unnecessary and absolutely animal abuse.


  11. Per FOIA data, it shows that 102 burros were trapped from Lake Pleasant HMA between 9/9/2014 and 5/13/2015. And I don’t know how many before or after that time.
    This same document shows a total of 384 wild burros food/water trapped from the time the trapping contracts were signed in mid 2012 through May of 2015 and this would not include all the burros trapped by helicopter chasing during that same time or since that time.
    What used to be desert land that nobody wanted, is now highly sought after for gas pipelines and corporate mining and solar and wind turbines and military and other reasons and the BLM wants the burros GONE and they don’t care how or what happens to them after they are captured.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Do the same thing to the vets and the BLM that are behind this mare sterilization thus do on to them as they are doing to the wild horses and burros


  13. In Harney County, an area with a concentration of 111,881 total food animals to two veterinarians, there’s still not an overwhelming amount of work, said Dr. Leon Pielstick, 62.

    It used to be that ranchers would seek his advice, invite him to lunch and treat him almost like a family member, said Pielstick, who worked at Harney County Veterinary Clinic in Burns for 33 years before retiring.

    But now more ranchers are handling work a vet once did, like pregnancy tests on cows. “I don’t know if there’s a shortage or if there’s just a potential for not replacing people like myself,” he said. “I don’t think it’s strictly a numbers thing, just a changing dynamic that I fear is making us less and less valuable.”

    Buck Taylor of VE Ranch Inc. in Diamond said he rarely uses veterinarians, generally calling on them only for horse lameness or a brucellosis (Bang’s disease) vaccination. But he’ll drive three hours to Idaho rather than seek the Harney County vets because the Harney County vets are women. Taylor is more concerned about a surplus of women rather than a shortage of vets; he thinks they are simply too small to withstand the rigors of working with large farm animals.


  14. And apparently Leon Pielstick assists in killing other wildlife too? (see below link)
    And by the way, Leon Pielstick was also in charge of putting collars on wild horses in the Sheldon Wildlife Reserve and also on private land (Roaring Springs Ranch in Oregon, whose manager is a very out-spoken anti-wild horse person) as experiments for what is now becoming a common practice of collaring wild horses and wild burros in the wild although the study states, “Despite the technology’s widespread application, in the United States collars have been barred from use on free-roaming horses that are under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) because of previous incidents of collar-related injuries to horses fitted with VHF collars.”
    Is there a particular word for people who go out of their way to torture animals?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I read somewhere about they used a collared wolf as a judas wolf, which they followed his transmissions until he joined a pack. Then they went in and killed them, pups and all, but left the judas alive to watch his family suffer & die in front of him. And I guess to use him again, how heartless can people be…


  15. This is ultimately disturbing… it like having a Josef Mengele doing these atrocious procedures… Oregon State University acting like SS/Gestapo overseeing it, and the eventual victims our wild horses held by the THOUSANDS in AUSCHWITZ…(Nevada and other “pens”. BLM, OSU and many others who claim they are helping to protect the wild ones but condone sterilization, should absolutely be ashamed of the horrific atrocity they have created! Abolish the BLM, for it caves in to political cronyism for oil, agriculture, selling off lands for foreign interests… at the undue harm to the wildlife, including our wild horses and burros. Demand to defunded any and all programs OSU is collecting on for these types of programs. And finally, make sure “rescue operations ” aren’t promoting sterilization EXPERIMENTS before supporting any one of them. One final note … food for thought… We must increase awareness about slaughter, to keep it illegal. Because if we can achieve no sterilization of ANY kind, THEY will likely come back with “over population”, must legalize slaughter… because that what we used to do. WE CANNOT LET THIS HAPPEN.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. If anyone wants to read more information on the BLM’s plan -below is the link.
    If you want to know who is pushing this, here are the list of preparers who thought it was a good idea and signed off on it:
    List of Preparers
    Name Title Responsible for the Following Section(s) of this Document
    Lisa Grant WH&B Specialist, Burns District. Lead Preparer
    Rob Sharp Supervisory WH&B Specialist, Burns District
    Emily Erwin Planning and Environmental Coordinator, Burns District
    Brenda LincolnWojtanik Program Analyst – NEPA Coordinator, Oregon State Office.
    Robert Hopper Rangeland Management Specialist, Oregon State Office.
    Dean Bolstad Senior Advisor, WH&B Program, Washington D.C. Office.
    Paul Griffin WH&B Specialist, Research Coordinator, Washington D.C. Office.
    Albert Kane, DVM, MPVM, PhD National Coordinator and Advisor, Animal and
    Plant Health Inspection Service/BLM WH&B Partnership.
    Alan Shepherd WH&B Specialist, Nevada State Office.
    Bryan Fuell On-Range Branch Chief, WH&B Program, Washington D.C. Office
    Oregon State University, College of Veterinary Medicine Principal Investigators

    Click to access MareSterilizationResearchEA_12172015.pdf

    PS Just so you know how these people REALLY feel about our wild horses and burros … Rob Sharp is (per Tom Davis investigator report) is one of the WH&B facility managers who called BLM’s WH&B salesperson Sally Spencer to tell her that he had pregnant mares in the Burns WH&B facility that she might want to sell.
    “In January [2012], the manager of the agency’s corral in Burns, Ore., emailed superiors in Washington, D.C., to ask what to do with 29 mares, almost all of which were pregnant. Spencer replied that Davis would take them.”

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Re: Leon Pielstick
    Can anyone else visualize the brown spittle oozing down this guy’s chin as he wrote this? No wonder he is in close association (and apparently now makes his living carving on our wild ones?) with BLM’s managing for extinction plans! They must love him to pieces!

    “Choices are: 1) Keep removing and placing the animals into holding facilities
    2) Sell for slaughter or 3) Control the reproduction of the animals on the range
    through fertility control.”

    Click to access Lecture%202,%20Pielstick,%20Leon%20-%20%20Population%20Control%20in%20Wild%20Horses.pdf

    Heaven forbid that he should look at REAL science which clearly shows it is the private/corporate domestic invasive livestock that need to be removed from our public lands!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Excerpts from the April BLM advisory board transcripts:
    “I personally saw that there was also one horse that he performed the same copotomy research on and the horse is completely emitted and to my best knowledge, I heard that that horse passed away.
    I saw that animals were suffering.
    They were not anesthetized adequately.
    I saw there was no respect for the burros.
    There were four people sticking their hands in the statement burro during the same procedure.
    I saw one burro being kicked by Dr. Peelstick for no apparent reason.”
    ” They did it on at least five burros.
    One the burros died.
    One of the burros lost her 50 to 70 day old fetus, and other burros developed post-operative infections.”
    And then apparently Leon Pielstick had signed up to speak during the public comment period also BUT when the time came, he declined and likely was advised to not speak as the transcripts show.
    So Leon.
    No comment, sir?”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for providing all this background information about Pielstick.

      Now is should be clear to anyone, even those not familiar with or that don’t care about wild horses that Pielstick is full of BS and is the personification of welfare ranching cronysm and corruption.

      We need to flood OSU with these evidences until they choke

      Liked by 1 person

    • Right on! Pielstick should have never been allowed to enter into contracts with the BLM, push any agenda or do any demonstration for BLM: He has a clear economical and ideological conflict of interest in the matter.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. The local people love those Burros.

    By Marjorie Farabee

    I may have seemed to have been missing in action for the past week and a half, but I have been out in the field trying…

    Posted by Marjorie Farabee on Thursday, April 14, 2016

    Thanks to the help of people who live here, and who are growing increasingly alarmed by the absence of burros, I was able to go where the burros are supposed to be. Nancy has been a huge help to me. She rides her horse and quad all over the HMA’s in the area from Surprise to Lake Pleasant. The herds are gone. There are only token numbers left. We looked. She has been looking every day. They are gone, and so is most of their sign.
    The trick the BLM uses is Catagorical Exclusion (CX). They simply state that they are either starving, dehydrated or a nuisance to people and they are removed without the pesky oversight of NEPA, EIA or EA before they are removed. They don’t even have to inform the public of their intentions.
    They just disappear, and suddenly a once complete and beautiful desert is left without character. It is like looking at a night sky and not seeing stars, it is disturbing and unsatisfying.
    To not see burros in the desert, is heartbreakingly incomplete. To not hear their song at night leaves a person feeling unwhole. We are losing a treasure.

    By all scientific standards our burros are near extinction. Even if we use the skewed numbers provided by the BLM and

    Liked by 1 person

  20. The American People love the Wild Burros

    The LAW

    Lake Pleasant Wildlife Wild Burro family

    Liked by 1 person

  21. This is exactly why field sterilizations are inhumane for wild horses. Most domestic horse owners would not risk it even in a controlled stall/surgery center environment. Why is the BLM entitled to engage Dr. Kervorkian’s or are they like Hiltler’s Germany where doctors were allowed free reign to experiment with the Holocaust victims… Bleeding out or dying from infection is slow, painful and tortuous unless of course all the blood drew a predator in to give the poor thing a more humane death than the BLM STAFF did. I worked for state government and with federal and local governments for 30 years. Not a like of bright ones in the box…


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