“The attached press release, below, gives the inside story of how the Oregon wild mare sterilization experiments were stopped by an appeal to the Department of Interior’s IBLA (Interior Board of Land Appeals) by a coalition of equine advocate, animal welfare and environmental groups. Thanks again to all the individuals and groups that supported our appeal and kept believing we could win. The topsy turvy events of the past week demonstrate that unity is more important than ever to protect our public lands and the wild animals we cherish.” ~ Charlotte Roe
Citizens Against Equine Slaughter
In a precedent setting case with the Department of Interior’s Board of Land Appeals (IBLA), environmental, animal welfare and wild horse advocate groups joined forces to defeat Bureau of Land Management (BLM) brutal plans to sterilize 225 wild mares, fillies and foals in Oregon’s Hines corrals in cooperation with Oregon State University (OSU).
On July 29, 2016, the BLM and IBLA received a Notice of Appeal and Stay of Implementation Petition from a coalition of 14 environmental groups. The Notice/Stay named Citizens Against Equine Slaughter (CAES), Oregon Wild Horse & Burro Association (OWHBA), Central Oregon Wild Horse Coalition (COWHC) and Wild Equid League of CO (WELOC) as the main appellants.
On August 4, 2016, BLM filed a motion to dismiss the appeal with the IBLA. They claimed appellants did not have standing or proper representation.
On August 12, Appellants delivered a response to this motion proving that our representative was indeed a pro se attorney and that she was the founding member of the lead advocate group, Citizens Against Equine Slaughter (CAES). Several affidavits were delivered proving standing of all the appellants. In particular, one member of both CAES and OWHBA who is disabled, challenged BLM’s claim of no standing of a person who cannot physically stand out on the range or travel to the holding pens as often as BLM felt was necessary to be considered sufficient for “standing.”
Two other appeals filed by individuals were dismissed September 7, 2016, for lack of standing. This coalition’s appeal was the only action that stood. Three lawsuits were also filed, but the Board’s procedures dictate that these legal challenges could not be considered until the it acted on the IBLA appeals.
On August 29th, 2016, the Coalition filed their Reasons for Appeal Brief. Among the affidavits delivered with this brief were the eyewitness testimony of an individual who watched Dr. Leon Pielstick perform ovariectomy via colpotomy on burros and mares during a public workshop in Arizona. This video and testimony demonstrated that the procedures were not successful, and that the death rate was significantly higher than that allowed by veterinary standards.
Seven business days after the reasons for appeal and these documents were presented in the case, the BLM submitted a Motion to Vacate and Remand. This was done because BLM no
longer wished to implement the Decision of Record (DR). In all likelihood, the Agency chose to avoid the risk that the Board could rule against it, setting precedent for the horses. On September 9, 2016, the IBLA Vacated and Remanded the DR to the BLM. This action meant the BLM’s decision to sterilize the wild mares and foals was vacated and rescinded. Implementation of these experiments would now be illegal.
The pressure put on the Department of Interior and BLM due to this Appeal, public outrage and a combination of related actions stopped BLM and OSU from submitting these wild mares to barbaric, unwarranted experiments and dangerous surgeries that would have resulted in the deaths of many mares, aborted foals, and permanent injury for countless others that may have survived.
To date, the coalition is formed of the following groups: Citizens Against Equine Slaughter, Oregon Wild Horse & Burro Association, Central Oregon Wild Horse Coalition, Wild Equid League of Colorado, In Defense of Animals, Wild Horse Freedom Federation, Union for the Preservation of Wildlife, Animal Rights Leadership Council, Animal Horse Defense Coalition, Mobilization for Animals, Monero Mustang, New Mexicans Against Horse Slaughter, Wild Horse Observers Association and Pity Not Cruelty.
The coalition is growing and will continue to fight to keep wild horses and burros alive and free, and to defend all wildlife and the health of public lands.
The day we received the news of the victory with IBLA, the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Council voted with one dissent (by Ginger Kathrens of The Cloud Foundation) to recommend that the BLM euthanize all ‘unadoptable’ horses in long-term holding. This would mean killing some 45,000 healthy wild horses that the BLM had removed from the range. Killing captive prisoners whether human or animal is NOT what we or most Americans can accept. It HAD to stop, and it has been stopped by a tremendous civic uproar. This afternoon BLM announced that it has no plans to perform mass euthanasia. Our wild horses and burros have had a good week. How long will it last?
For questions or more information please contact:
Val Cecama-Hogsett, CAES & OWHBA media liaison Phone: 541.315.6650