Equine Rescue


“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

8 month old fillies at BLM's Hines, Oregon holding facility...saved from the "experiments" ~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

8 month old fillies at BLM’s Hines, Oregon holding facility…saved from the “experiments” ~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

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
Email: val4.wildhorses@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/CAES4OWH/

16 replies »

  1. 2.1 M cows roam public land — and yet they say 30,000 horses are the problem. Need to change the way public lands are handled. Like many other bureaucracies, the BLM is out of control. I hope they don’t use this as an excuse to sell these 45000 souls to slaughter.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Academy of Sciences said there is no over population of wild horses on public lands. Do we still need better adjudication? Perhaps the BLM should adopt scientific rather then estimates based on erroneous methods to count wild horses. They are politically charged it’s obvious.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We need to be at the ready. The next bump is gonna be a doozy. The BLM tries one disastrous idea after another. An “insider” told me they wanted to use the media frenzy to paint another bad portrait of the horses. They did to some small extent but the United States of America’s Outcry was So strong and Loud the BLM didnt get to pull it off. There was an underlying reason for the Backlash from the public. I will keep my ear open to the “insider” and we will see what happens next.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Someone needs to draw a picture of the truth. A picture of thousands of cows grazing pulling grasses out by the roots and grinding plants to their deaths while 1 tiny Wild Horse peeks out from a sea of cattle legs trying to find one tiny blade of grass. That would be a true depiction of the issue.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. All is good now. But they now have opened a can of worms. The demands now are going to be stronger. I am demanding my Legislators produce a through list of every Horse and Burro being held in holding pens and on private ranches. They also need to modify or add an addendum to the Adoption contract. None of this one year and its yours to do with the horse or burro what ever you want. It should read as most other adoption contracts. If the horse or burro cannot be kept by the adopter the animal is remanded back. Each horse or burro.should be chipped and a master list kept by several parties. Then should any of the wild horses or burros show up at auctions or kill pens authorities must be called and the animals impounded by authorities to be determined by an impartial network of wild horse and burro advocates. Totally dismantle and fire the BLM responsible for all these fiascos. The reckless mismanagement and inappropriate use of tax payers dollars must end. If they took the $785,000 they spent for each helicopter roundup times the number of roundups, you have over two million dollars. This should have been used for their care not their mutilation and death! They crossed the line. Therefore, giving Advocates an opportunity to demand real reform.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Question: what now happens to the mares and fillies recently rounded up to provide “fresh” subjects for this “research” which will now not happen? Where are they? We need a followup story here!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would be interested in giving these mustang wild horses/ mares a home in minnesota. I have 55 acers. I want to help these defenseless horse. Please no more harm should come to any horse. Sandra arens webster, minnesota

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sandra, I don’t know what has happened to the Oregon mares, but know the Sand Wash HMA in Colorado is slated for a 50 horse removal within the next month. These will be bait trapped and sent to Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary (from where they can be adopted). There is a lot of citizen support in the Sand Wash management, so PZP is being used in conjunction with selective bait trapping to keep herd numbers within (subjective) reason. Check them out here:


        Liked by 1 person

      • Is this as good as it appears to be? I tend to be really doubtful about anything the BLM is involved with. And frankly, if this is working so well – why haven’t they allowed other sanctuaries to start up???
        Sorry for the pessimism – but really look at the past years!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Not enough can be said to depict the cruel and barbaric treatment by BLM of our beloved and helpless wild horses. For as long as I can remember BLM has tortured, run to death, and penned these wonderful horses in brutal circumstances. They sold them to monsters in auctions to get rid of the horses, and the horses have suffered agony, been starved to death or abused, because of the poor judgement and mindless cruelty of the Bureau of Land Management. Instead of worrying about doing about the horses someone should DO SOMETHING ABOUT BLM!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m a horse owner and advocate-but I want to mention some things that apparently some people do not know. A. You can graze horses behind cattle, but you CANNOT graze cattle behind horses. The reason lies in how the animals graze. A cow only has one set of incisors. They have to wrap their tongues around the grass and hold it in order to nip it off. Grass any shorter than about an inch is inaccessible to them. Horses, on the other hand, can get all the way to the dirt and will. B. Cattle and horses behave differently at water holes. They just do. C. Horses will cover a lot more territory than cattle-it is nothing for a horse to travel 30-40 miles in a day. Cattle just don’t do that.

    Now I’ll grant you that in sheer numbers, the cum effect of the cattle is likely worse that the horses. But I also want you to consider this–it AIN’T THE CATTLE RANCHERS!!

    It’s the oil and mining people and their money that is behind this. THEY WANT THE LAND TO DRILL, FRACK, AND POLLUTE to their hearts’ content. They can’t do that if the animals are still there because we’ll see them dying from the poisons. Look deeper, people. You’re not looking deep enough. You’re looking at the BLM and not who is pressuring the BLM. Follow the money.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are simply no such simple answers. While this Oregon sterilization “research” has been halted for now, this letter should provide a good indicator that cattle ranchers are indeed a significant part of the opposition to keeping wild horses wild, in the wild. (see below, sorry the footnotes would not copy and paste correctly but are added below).


      February 1, 2016
      Lisa Grant
      Rangeland Management Specialist
      BLM Burns District Office 28910 Hwy 20 West Hines, OR 97738
      RE: NEPA #DOI-BLM-ORWA-B000-2015-0055-EA Mare Sterilization Research

      Dear Ms. Grant,
      The United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) respectfully submits the following comments regarding the proposed Mare Sterilization Research project
      at the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Oregon Wild Horse Corral Facility in Hines, Oregon.

      USCA represents a national membership of cow-calf producers, backgrounders and feedlot operators whose mission is to present an effective voice for the United States cattle industry.

      Current estimates state that over 100,000 wild horses are under BLM jurisdiction, with almost half of those horses residing in permanent, long-term, federal holding pens. Wild horses devastate ecosystems by overgrazing public and private lands, damaging riparian areas, and polluting pristine Western waters. Herd Management Areas (HMA) are grossly overpopulated, forcing many wild horse herds to seek space in non-HMA locations. Improper and inactive management often results in poor horse health, compromises habitat conservation efforts, and costs millions of dollars of taxpayer money to remedy.

      Given the current situation, USCA welcomes new policies and ideas to appropriately and actively manage wild horses and burros. However, USCA has numerous concerns with the likelihood of this particular research project leading to a successful method of managing excess horses and burros on public and private lands.

      Those concerns are as follows:

      Tubal ligation and hysteroscopically-guided laser ablation procedures appear to be the least abrasive technique in the EA; and therefore, are the most likely to be supported by the public. However, this option is limited in its scope of application. The Hysteroscopically-guided Laser Ablation Study is applicable only to open (non-pregnant) mares, therefore greatly reducing the number of animals eligible for the procedure. Wild horses tend to be exceptionally fertile; therefore, the likelihood of gathering an adequate amount of open mares, out of any HMA, is relatively small. Further, cost estimates for the procedure are under estimated in the assessment. Hysteroscopically-guided laser ablation is expected to cost the least amount of taxpayer dollars at $75-$125 per head. Ovariectomy via colpotomy is expected to cost the most, at approximately $250–$300 per head. Unfortunately, in order to conduct this procedure at a level that would curb population growth, an inordinate amount of indirect costs not evaluated in this EA would need to be calculated into the final cost to taxpayers. Sites across the West would need to be built and properly staffed to apply the procedure to the greatest number of animals possible; consequently, the number of staff and veterinarians needed would grow exponentially as a result.

      Tubal Ligation

      According to the EA, this procedure is intended to be used on pregnant mares. While this serves as a contrast to the above procedure, it is still not without major concerns. Once again, indirect costs associated with this procedure are not accurately evaluated, especially considering possible complications and pain associated with this procedure including abdominal pain (colic) associated with the expansion of the abdomen. The description of this type of procedure leaves serious doubts as to the amount of horses that can be performed upon per hour. Additionally, the question remains whether the ovaries can even be reached during the procedure due to uterus movement of a late term mare. Similar to the hysteroscopically-guided laser ablation, this procedure is limited in the number of eligible mares, resulting in a significantly smaller impact on controlling the epidemic of excess horses throughout most HMAs.

      Ovariectomy via Colpotomy

      This procedure, as outlined in the EA, appears to be the least humane of the three methods proposed. Individual mares selected for inclusion in the ovariectomy procedure would be held without feed for 36 hours prior to surgery. As hindgut herbivores, horses are designed to be foragers. Withholding feed for 36 hours can cause undue stress on the individual mare and increase the risk of painful abdominal pain, or colic, which can result in fatality. Ovariactomy via colpotomy suggests that mares be kept standing for 48- hours after the surgery is completed. Due to the inherent nature of wild horses, USCA has serious doubts that this task can be properly carried out to ensure a successful operation. Because of the perceived inability to keep wild horses standing for up to 48 hours, we would expect the mortality rate to be much higher than cited in the EA. Additional post-operative complications include pain, colic, pawing, refusal to eat, bleeding, infection, or signs of abortion.

      There is a lack of clarity presented in the EA on the ability to conduct this surgery on a larger scale. For a group of 100 horses, the EA anticipates a timeframe of 3 to 4 days to complete all of the procedures. With an ever-increasing number of wild horses and burros on public and private lands, a more timely solution is necessary.


      USCA does not believe that any of the three proposed research procedures will serve to curb the exponential increase in wild horse populations. USCA recognizes the
      BLM’s constructive efforts to find solutions to the dire situation we currently face, but does not support the methods proposed in this EA as a means by which to address the problem at hand.

      These proposed procedures come at significant cost and will take years to develop and implement across the west in order to see actual results in reduced herd sizes. This particular study examines approximately 200 mares at a cost of $400,000 to simply house and feed the animals, with an additional $60,000 – $70,000 in surgical procedure costs. USCA believes that the costs described in this EA do not factor in the potential future costs of implementing any of the three proposed sterilization methods on a larger scale.

      In order for any population control measure to be successful, it would need to be performed upon close to 40,000 free-roaming mares. The cost to sterilize that number of mares could reach up to $140 million in surgical fees alone. In addition, there are a multitude of associated costs not included in the EA. For example, post-operative care of the mares is not factored into the overall cost assessment in the EA. Mares who receive the sterilization procedure are at risk of many post-operation complications, resulting in the potential administration of costly pain medications and veterinary care. USCA requests a reassessment of the associated costs of this study, and its implication on a larger scale.

      With wild horse populations already greatly exceeding numbers set forth in the
      Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act, and continually increasing at a rate of 18% annually, solutions need to be practical and fast. USCA continues to support BLM efforts to gather wild horses and humanely euthanize excess wild horses as called for in the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act. Understandably, this solution may not be the most popular alternative, but it serves as the only truly humane and fiscally responsible way to rein in current excess over Appropriate Management Levels (AML). Our public lands and natural resources are degrading as this issue is left unchecked; a balance must be restored on the management of federal lands for multiple uses.

      USCA welcomes your feedback and comments to the concerns listed above. Please contact the USCA office at 202-546-4064 for further information or clarification regarding any of the above stated concerns.

      Danni Beer
      United States Cattlemen’s Association

      3. United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management, Burns District Office, Mare Sterilization Research Environmental Assessment. (2016, January 5). Page 46
      4. United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management, Burns District Office, Mare Sterilization Research Environmental Assessment. (2016, January 5). Page 21
      5. Nutrena: Knowledge Center – Horse – Nutrition & Care – Colic in Horses. (n.d.). Retrieved January 25, 2016, from http://www.nutrenaworld.com/knowledge-center/horse/horse-nutrition-tools/colic-in-horses/index.htm
      6. Population dynamics of feral horses in Western North America, Wolfe, Michael L., Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, Volume 6, Issue 5, 231–235
      7. Public Act 92-195, 92 Cong. (1971) (enacted). http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/wo/Planning_and_Renewable_Resources/wild_horses_and_burros/sale_authority.Par.69801. File.dat/whbact_1971.pdf

      Liked by 1 person

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