Equine Rescue

Breaking News: Nonprofit Horse Rescue Group Challenges Inhumane Experimental Surgery

Source: Front Range Equine Rescue

Despite strong opposition, the Bureau of Land Management, (BLM), intends to move forward with gruesome and dangerous sterilization experiments on wild mares

HINES, Ore., July 26, 2016 – Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER), a national nonprofit working to end the abuse and neglect of horses through rescue, advocacy and education, announced today it is suing the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management to stop the BLM’s experimental sterilization of wild mares in Oregon. The lawsuit was filed late yesterday in federal court in Washington D.C.

Steens HMA wild horse family, about to be destroyed by BLM for experimental sterilizations ~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Steens HMA wild horse family, about to be destroyed by BLM for experimental sterilizations ~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

FRER’s suit contends the BLM’s intention to conduct surgical experiments on 225 wild horses, many in various stages of pregnancy, and potentially thousands more horses over time, causes harm and suffering in violation of federal law.
The sterilizations on wild mares proposed by the BLM, to be carried out in collaboration with Oregon State University, include three untested, dangerous procedures:

  • Slicing open the mare’s vagina while sedated, but awake and standing, and blindly pulling out her ovaries – a risky and controversial surgical procedure even for tame mares under the best of conditions, let alone captive wild horses in a holding facility
  • Burning and then cutting the sedated, but conscious horses’ fallopian tubes, a procedure that is surgically untested on horses
  • Using a laser, inserted through the vagina, to scar and seal the ovaries – another surgery that has never been studied in horses

“It is unjustifiable for the BLM to conduct such barbaric sterilization experiments with a host of known risks, including death, on captive wild horses,” said Hilary Wood, President of FRER. “Performing unproven surgeries in a holding pen, let alone on the open range, is contrary to the BLM’s congressional mandate to care for wild horses, especially when responsible alternatives like the PZP contraceptive vaccine already exist to maintain population levels and ensure herd viability.”

Earlier this year, FRER filed formal comments opposing the “research” that will be done on conscious animals in long-term holding. These comments – and comments submitted by more than 20,000 members of the public – were disregarded, prompting FRER to file its suit.

“These sterilization procedures are not documented, practiced, or analyzed in non-surgical settings; they are overly invasive, and they are unlikely to have applicability for mares on public lands,” said Laureen Bartfield, DVM, an expert in population control of wild horses and the social structure of herds. “Two of the three procedures have virtually never been performed on horses, and the unvisualized removal of the ovaries, while documented in the literature, is disfavored by reputable veterinarians. The BLM’s plan is not just clinically ill-advised, it constitutes animal cruelty on a large scale.”

The plans for eventual widespread sterilization of horses on the range will also run up an estimated cost to the taxpayers in the millions – and the first of the funds could be handed to OSU in the form of a BLM grant. This first group of mares to go under the knife are in BLM custody in the Hines Corral in Eastern Oregon.

FRER’s lawsuit says the experimental sterilizations represent a conflict of interest, and are not in the best interests of wild horses, but rather in the BLM’s own best interest by reducing their management load without considering their mandate to properly manage the horses.
This is not the first time the BLM has pursued surgical sterilization for wild horses. In 2011, a federal court found the bureau’s plans to castrate wild horses captured in Wyoming was of an “extreme and irreversible nature.” In 2012, the BLM was again forced to defend similar plans in federal court, and abandoned its efforts to castrate Nevada’s wild horses.

The grim reality facing these innocent wild mares includes

  • Invasive surgery performed in a non-sterile environment
  • No known studies on domestic mares for the tubal ligation procedure
  • No known studies on domestic or wild mares for the Hysteroscopically-guided laser ablation procedure
  • Procedures to be performed on wild mares in varying stages of pregnancy
  • Infection, hemorrhaging, colic signs, aborted foals, potential for abnormalities in foals born, and death “If any gestational group in any procedure meets a major complication rate greater than 20 percent” then the procedure will be stopped
  • Major complications leading to death or the need for euthanasia are “expected” to be less than 2 percent (225 mares are slated for the research; 25 in a control group; 200 divided up for the three procedures)
  • Wild mares will be frightened as they are separated from their herd mates They will be even more terrified when driven into a confined chute to be sedated and restrained for the surgery
  • Ovarian function plays a significant role in the endocrine (hormonal) system. To destroy this biological function will damage behavior and health of surviving mares


29 replies »

  1. 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.”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. From The Cloud Foundation

    “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.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s the big question – not that I feel anything needs to be done because there is no overpopulation and no need. But that would be the time-honored way – why torture the female horses? We are a sick, sadistic species.

      Liked by 1 person

    • K, while this may seem logical, wild horses are not similar to domestic dogs and cats, which freely breed indiscriminately. In a normal wild horse band, only one dominant male is breeding, and the rest congregate in bachelor herds until one is able to challenge and defeat the band stallion

      So male castration won’t solve anything for at least three reasons:

      1. It only takes one stallion to impregnate his whole band of mares, and any mares he can steal or woo from other bands,

      2. Randomly castrating males will very dramatically bottleneck genetic viability in area herds, and in short order. Worse, random castration is the opposite of natural selection, so “good” survival genes from stallions with superior qualities will be forever lost along with those of inferior animals. While we can look at animals and judge them, natural selection operates in very different and often invisible ways.

      3. Studies have been done that show widespread social disruption when testosterone levels in the males are eliminated – consider that without a sex drive, the bachelors will not challenge a dominant stud, for example, and that stud will breed more years than nature would otherwise allow.

      All three options reduce genetic viability and produce unnatural social disruptions in animals Congress decreed should be managed in the most “minimally feasible” manner, in order to preserve their natural characteristics.

      Taking castration to an extreme example, you would see only living zoos in the wild, of non-reproducing and unnatural herds, which within a decade or so would be nearly extinct.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s imperative that the Public knows that neither Wild Horses OR Wild Burros are overpopulated.
      This is just part of an excellent letter written by Robert Bauer (the letter is too long to post all of it):

      Robert C. Bauer is a biologist
      Updated Jun 25, 2016

      Last year on Nov. 4 a letter was submitted to Neil Kornze, director of the Bureau of Land Management, from 20 congressional leaders. This was in reference to the present management program of the BLM concerning this nation’s wild horses and wild burros.

      In response to this letter, I would like to point out several points of misinformation that our congressional leaders and BLM have in reference to these wild equine. These are issues that will determine whether the wild horses remain in the wild, in the numbers that nature dictates, or whether they are managed to extinction.

      I have, as a biologist, been documenting the wild horses and burros for years, along with other ecologists. Overwhelming evidence proves that the preservation of these wild equine is imperative, as the native wildlife species and vital components to ecological balance, that they are, to preserve our western rangelands.

      The BLM has turned a blind side to the solid science that opposes the idea that these creatures are a detriment to the ecosystems they exist in. Just as much, this same science is opposed to the myth that there is over-population of our wild equine.

      The ludicrous concept of the “appropriate management level” of wild horses in any area out west is a lie concocted by the bureau. This is based upon how much forage that the BLM allows the mustangs, as opposed to how much they would actually consume. Cattle and other competing ruminants, on the other hand, in these same areas, are allocated by this same bureau the major percentage of the forage.

      From this concept of the “appropriate management level” comes the propaganda that there exists overpopulation of wild equids and the subsequent removal of them en masse from their legally designated lands.


  3. Excellent news and hopefully just in the nick of time to save these wild mares from UNNECESSARY torture. Why “unnecessary”? Because there are NO “excess” wild horses and burros on their congressionally designated lands.

    In 1971, when Congress passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, these animals were found roaming across 53,800,000 million acres. That amount of acreage could support more than about 250,000 wild horses and burros but even after 22,200,000 acres were stolen from the American people by government agencies the remaining 31,600,000 acres could support more than 100,000 wild horses and burros today. It is currently independently estimated that less than 20,000 wild horses and burros are living on their legal land today and yet the government continues its aggressive removal and destructive management toward total wild horse and burro extermination.

    The recent National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study found NO evidence of overpopulation of Wild Horses and Wild Burros. The NAS findings clearly state that the BLM has failed to provide accurate estimates of the nation’s population of wild horses and burros. Therefore, the NAS cannot conclude that a state of over-population exists and or [cannot] provide a recommendation for artificial management considerations such as fertility controls to control populations for which the complex population dynamics are currently unknown.

    This National Academy of Science [NAS] report reviews the science that underpins the Bureau of Land Management’s oversight of free-ranging horses and burros on federal public lands in the western United States and the report goes on to say, “The Wild Horse and Burro Program has not used scientifically rigorous methods to estimate the population sizes of horses and burros, to model the effects of management actions on the animals, or to assess the availability and use of forage on rangelands.”

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has not established the true population numbers of wild horses and burros on their congressionally designated range lands and therefore there is no justification for any temporary or permanent sterilization of wild horses and burros. NONE.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is just disgusting!!! We should as Americans each file our own law suits against the BLM and name every single person from top to bottom. My veterinarian is appsulled they are doing this. He said you cannot do this safely and without proper anesthesia he said the outcome would not be good.


  5. Stop the vile experimentation and torture of wild horses and burros. This is completely unacceptable! Let the wild horses run free on our public lands. That is what the American people want. BLM, you are going against the wishes of the people of this nation. Wild horses are like a national symbol for freedom. Let them run free!


  6. Reblogged this on uddeer and commented:
    The deer of the East Coast have been facing the very same grim realities as wild mares probably will face from those mandated by Congress to look out for their well being.


  7. From everything I have read wild horses are not over populated. I am outraged at This barbaric and inhumane treatment of our wild horses! There are other more humane options available to control population since BLM seems to think they need to be controlled. People please speak up in defense of these beautiful horses. Don’t allow them to be tortured and killed!!


  8. This is disgusting. This should be considered animal cruelty and all involved should go to jail for a VERY, VERY LONG TIME. As far as I’m concerned, go to jail for the rest of their lives. This is essentially attempting to MURDER these mares. I hope KARMA in its extremist form will come their way and they never see a day of piece of prosperity ever again. This is a criminal agency, under the money coming in from ranchers, and is controlled by ex cattlemen. The agency needs to be disbanded and new people appointed, serving to save and take care all of our horses, donkeys, mules and our wildlife. I won’t say in print what I think of them, but I know those agreeing with me know what I’m thinking.


  9. In addition, I don’t think any of our wild horses are in an over populated state. Nature takes care of them the way God has intended. Even if we would not want to see of one of our beautiful wild horses die, God takes care of their numbers. It’s now for the human being to be the judge and jury. Damn these people. KARMA come and get them all that is hurting our wild horses, domestic horses, donkeys, mules, and our dogs and cats being abused. It’s about time these individuals get what they deserve and it shouldn’t be nice.


  10. A great big thank you to the veterinarian who weighed in on this horrible Nazi like procedure. So increase the outcome to at least 98% mortality for what they’ve done. Sick fuggas. Nazis. Let’s rip the gonads out of those men and sterilize those women who supported this atrocity to the wild ones euth no compassion for them. Let’s see how they fare.


  11. I’m not sure if this has been posted elsewhere, but the USDA has enforcement oversight for humane care of animals being used for medical research:

    USDA Animal Care, a unit within the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, upholds and enforces the Animal Welfare Act. This federal law and its associated regulations set the standards for humane care and treatment that must be provided for certain animals that are: exhibited to the public; bred for commercial sale; used in medical research; or transported commercially. Facilities using regulated animals for regulated purposes must provide their animals with adequate housing, sanitation, nutrition, water and veterinary care, and they must protect their animals from extreme weather and temperatures.

    Inspectors use the Animal Welfare Act standards and regulations as the baseline by which they determine the level of care being provided. If a facility is meeting the federal standards, USDA knows that the animals there are receiving humane care and treatment. Conversely, when inspectors cite facilities for items that are not in compliance with the federal standards, USDA Animal Care holds those facilities responsible for properly addressing/correcting those items within a set timeframe. If these non-compliances are not corrected, or if they are of a serious enough nature, USDA has the option to pursue appropriate enforcement actions.


    File an animal welfare complaint here (anonymously if you wish):



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