Horse News

Action Alert: The BLM Does Not Give Up on Its Sadistic Plan to Spay Wild Mares – Please Comment Now


by Carol Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Last month we told you that Colorado State University had withdrawn from the BLM’s planned study of spaying wild mares from the Warm Springs Herd Management Area in Oregon by using the dangerous and deadly procedure overiectomy via colpotomy. It was due to all the outcry, letters, calls and messages that you made that resulted in this victory.

But the BLM is relentless in pursuing its goal of sterilizing wild horse herds and the eventual extinction of our wild horses on our public lands. Now, the BLM is planning to use contract veterinarians to do the same procedure that CSU was going to perform, and USGS is going to do a behavioral study afterward to see if there are behavioral changes in the mares afterward. They will be suing radio collars and tags to track them. This is ridiculous – how can there be a “study” of behavior if they do not study them before the roundup, removal and procedure, and how can there possibly be an approximation of how things were before when the mares have been removed from their families, who have been rounded up and removed? Calling this a “study” is absolutely laughable. They will be paid almost $900,000 for this farce.

This the BLM’s rationale: “The BLM must continue to pursue management actions to move toward achieving and maintaining the established AML and reduce the wild horse population growth rate in order to restore and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationship on public lands.”

This cannot be allowed to happen. Same sex herds and non-reproducing herds are not a management strategy that is part of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act. First of all, there is no overpopulation of wild horses on our public lands. Seventy percent of wild horse and burro herds have Appropriate Management Levels of below the minimum number needed to ensure genetic viability which is 150 breeding aged adults. Wild horses and burros are not starving to death on our public lands. Wild Horses and burros are being squeezed out of lands that have been designated for their use by livestock grazing, oil and gas, mining and other uses. We need to fight to keep our wild horses and burros free and on their rightful lands rather than rounded up by helicopters and traps and placed into holding facilities, sold to slaughter, or shipped overseas to be killed or slaughtered. The House of Representatives included single sex or non-reproducing herds in their version of the 2019 Appropriations Bill as part of 4 deadly strategies Representative Chris Stewart of Utah is spearheading against our wild horses. The Senate version does not include this in their version of the Appropriations Bill, and we must continue to call and talk to our Senators and Representatives and tell them we do not support this before the final Bill is passed.

The very first question that should be asked when any action is taken by the BLM to manage our wild horses and burros should be is it safe and humane? The answer to that question for this study is absolutely not. Overiectomy via colpotomy is an outdated procedure that is no longer used on domestic mares even in sterile veterinary hospitals because there are procedures that are safer, less painful, less intrusive with less possibility of severe injury, infection and death. It involves the veterinarian inserting an arm into the mare’s vaginal cavity, making blind incisions, then inserting a long metal rod called an ecraseur with a chain attached at one end that crushes and rips out the ovaries. The Burns corrals, where the procedure will be performed is filthy and although the BLM may “try” to approximate sterile conditions, it is imply impossible in the area where the procedure will be performed and in the pens the mares will be released into post-surgery. The mares, who are wild and have never been handled by humans before will be extremely stressed, perhaps colicking from no food for 24-36 hours before surgery, and many will be pregnant and can abort their foals. So much pain and suffering that is so needless and so inhumane is absolutely unacceptable. This is torture. This must be stopped.

Here is a link to a video prepared by Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation:

Veterinarian Don Moore, DVM of Colorado has some excellent comments that you can read:

“This type of trial and error butchery is a violation of the least feasible management clause of the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act. 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  taken as a graduating veterinarian,  “above all else, do no harm”.  If a veterinarian in private practice performed these procedures in the manner described in this document they would most certainly be reported  to and disciplined by the regulatory board of that state.  Discipline would likely mean suspension of that veterinarian’s license to practice in that state.”

To read his comments in full, go here:

Please do send comments in even if you have before. We need as many voices as possible raised against this.

Here is a link to the documents:

The deadline for comments is September 2.

“If you have comments on the updated EA or unsigned FONSI, submit them postmarked by September 2, 2018, to:

Spay Project Lead,

Burns District Office 28910 Hwy 20 West

Hines, Oregon 97738

Email comments should be sent to:

After consideration of your substantive comments, a decision outlining the action to be taken within the scope of the EA will be developed and issued. If you have already submitted comments on the draft EA of June 29, 2018, and have no additional comments, you do not need to re-submit. If you do submit comments, please include your name and mailing address and you will receive a copy of the decision. If you do not have comments but wish to receive a copy of the decision, please submit a written request, otherwise you will not receive a copy.”

Related Posts:

Wild Horse Spay Feasibility Research: It’s a CRIME

To find out more about Wild Horse Freedom Federation and our work to keep wild horses and burros wild and free on our public lands visit:

19 replies »

  1. I am so tired of this leaveour horses and burros. Stop rounding up and save money. And our horses and burros will be free. What is spent on rounding up our horses could go toward insurance for people. Sterilize our horses and burros is wrong very wrong. Stand up and fight now.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Received 2 emails from BLM telling me this & extending the comment period! How many comments does it take to make this agency wake up? Behavioral study – give me a break. In order to study “behavior” someone would have to have some tiny tidbit of experience & knowledge – there is neither of that!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. These people that are pushing for this are very sadistic people . These experiments prove nothing except to see how the mare survives afterward if she lives through it .Experimental spaying with filthy conditions, no Anastesia ,no pain meds and then afterward to observe if the pregnant mare aborts is pure TORTURE and SO unnecessary . WE need to STOP the BLM from disfiguring & torturing our horses . They are insane to think this is managing the wild horses .

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Apparently the Oregon vet Leon Pielstick is being investigated due to a complaint.
    I think the complaint was made when the BLM was planning on doing the ovariectomy colpotomy surgeries in conjunction with the U of Oregon – who backed down.
    Then the same but with the U of Colorado but they also backed down.
    Regardless, the BLM will not give up on this atrocious plan so it is great news that in the meantime, Pielstick is being investigated by the Oregon Veterinary Medical Examining Board.

    Liked by 2 people


    Horse Handling And Riding Guidelines
    Part I: Equine Senses
    Al Cirelli, Jr., Extension Horse Specialist School of Veterinary Medicine
    Brenda Cloud, Vocational Instructor Southern Extension Area

    The nervous system is a rather complicated control mechanism that allows the horse to perceive and immediately respond to conditions of its environment. Be horse is a very sensitive animal with exceptional tactile perception. This fact coupled with its learning ability have provided for its domestication and use by man. The superior athletic ability of the horse together with its willingness and desire to please make it a desirable animal for many uses.
    The horse’s LOW TOLERANCE FOR PAIN, SENSITIVITY TO PRESSURE AND TOUCH and its excellent memory make it a desirable companion animal.

    Evans, Warren, J. 1989. Horses, 2′ Ed. W.H. Freeman & Co., New York.
    Hart, B.L. 1985. The Behavior of Domestic Animals. W.H. Freeman & Co., New York.
    McCall, J. 1988. Influencing Horse Behavior. Alpine Publications, Colorado.
    Miller, R.W. 1974. Western Horse Behavior and Training, Doubleday & Co., New York

    Click to access fs9829.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

    • And many human beings are insensitive louts. (Especially at the BLM). Mengele-like experimentation on beings who cannot speak or protect themselves from us, and can’t even provide shade for them?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Why mares are not often spayed:

    “Spaying a mare is a more complicated medical procedure than gelding, involving entering the abdominal cavity. Although there is more than one way to spay a mare, each resulting in the removal of the ovaries, the procedure tends to be painful and there can be scary complications, such as bleeding from the ovarian artery, which can be difficult to control. … The primary reason a mare is spayed is due to medical reasons. Occasionally, a mare will develop ovarian cysts or cancerous growths that affect her hormone levels and can make her behave in unpredictable, aggressive, stallion-like ways. If systemic hormone therapies don’t help, removal of the ovaries does the trick.”

    I think this final observation speaks the loudest as to the rarity of spaying a mare: We were not taught the procedure in vet school. It’s best left to the large animal surgical specialists in veterinary hospitals and referral clinics.”

    And it was already done with Sheldon mares (before Sheldon was emptied forever of wild horses — so much for collecting followup data:

    Spaying of mares

    “Spaying has occurred in the field on wild mares under jurisdictions other than BLM, such as USFWS (Fish and Wildlife) in areas such as the Sheldon National Wildlife Reserve. The procedures done at Sheldon vary from removal of ovaries to hysterectomies done through the rectum. In one procedure 30% of mares died in less than 24 hours prior to release and were not tracked on range to study complications and mortality. No data is available at all to justify this dangerous procedure, performed on domestics in a sterile environment only in emergency situations, and not on vulnerable wild horse mares of any age in field.

    Our data shows that spaying of mares creates a stressor that has no relief and is detrimental to health and safety of the herd. Our observations were made over a period of time at Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge where vasectomies were also utilized. This created a significant population of males that believed they were reproductive but were not. The constant stress of competition for the reduced number of fertile females was intense.”

    Letter on Wild Horse Management

    Only one field example of spaying of wild mares exists. This spaying took place at the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada. At least, ten percent (30 horses) of the mares died. The Sheldon operation was conducted on a much smaller scale than what is currently under consideration by BLM. It is also possible that the recorded number of deaths at Sheldon is far below the actual number of deaths- some mares were released to the wild and not tracked to determine if more deaths occurred. The potential risk to the affected herds is troubling. Even the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) veterinarian, Dr. Al Kane, expressed concerns about the procedure. In fact, the majority of equine and large animal veterinarians strongly discourage the practice, particularly with wild animals. The surgical environment needs to be completely sterile and recovery time takes at least a month, neither of which is something BLM has the capacity to undertake. At Sheldon the wild horses were hoisted into front loaders of tractors where the procedures were performed.

    Although sterilization is mentioned in the Free-Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act, it is intended to reference population control, and not the creation of completely non-reproducing herds, which would result in the extinction of wild horses in their legal herd areas. Natural controls on population levels are cited within the same sentence of the Act, a concept that your agency has not taken into serious consideration. Predator management through mountain lions has been enormously successful in stabilizing the population of the Montgomery Pass herd on the California-Nevada border. Due to predation of foals by mountain lions, that herd has not had a roundup in almost 30 years. The same is true for the Cerbat wild horses of Arizona who have shown a stable population in an ecosystem with natural wildlife predation. …


    Reps. Grivalva, Woolsey, Gonzalez , Kucinich, Moran, Hinchey, Nadler, Bordallo, Andrews, Rahall, DeFazio, Doyle, Jackson, Levin, Deutch, Pascrell, Schiff, Blumenauer, Lowey, Lewis, Conyers, Van Hollen, McCarthy, Chu, Gutierrez, Eshoo, Olver, Stark, Susan Davis, Filner, Himes, Rothman, Hirono, Holt, Tsongas, Danny Davis, Gwen Moore, Langevin, Carolyn Maloney, Cohen, Schakowsky , Frank, Keating, Honda, Cleaver, Neal, Ellison, Rangel, Rush, DeGette, Peters, Capps, Lee, Farr, Bernice Johnson, Carson, Sarbanes, McGovern, Connolly, Sherman, Sanchez, Cicciline, Richardson, Capuano, McDermott

    Liked by 1 person

    • Seems to me if veterinarians are not taught this procedure in vet school – there is a reason for that! I think it might be a good idea for some background research of the current BLM’s fair haired boy!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a cruel and terrible way to control the population of any wild animal. It is not ok at all. It will change everything wild and free about these beautiful wild animals. These wild animals have been here for centuries and they have survived and been just fine. There is no population problem with them. It is all lies.. The Blm and the cattle ranchers want to make these animals go away forever. We the people, horse lovers, animal lovers all over this country want these animals to stay wild and free for centuries to come. We will keep fighting to protect these beautiful Horses for as long as it takes. It is a crime to do this to wild animals who are protected by the federal government in the 1971 wild horse freedom act.. We all need to come together and fight for the wild horses that are left, and there is not that many now, if you start sterilization of the horses they will soon be extinct just like so many other animals that cruel human beings have made disappear from this earth. Please dont do this, it is not natural, wild and free.. These horses deserve to live free and wild just like any other wild animal. I beleive the BLM should be prosecuted for doing this to wild animals.. It is unlawful, and inhumane ,not to mention unethical and a terrible thing to do for the future of these beautiful wild horses..

    Liked by 1 person

    Dr. Bruce Nock

    Let me explain. In 2010, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), raised the possibility
    of gelding males (removing their testes) and spaying females (removing their ovaries)
    before returning them to the range.1 Now, they have once again proposed spaying
    females as a method to control wild horse populations. Technically speaking, horses
    have estrus cycles, not menstrual cycles. Nevertheless, spaying removes the primary
    source of estrogens and progestins from the body, just like menopause, and there is no
    reason to believe the consequences are less severe for mares than they are for women

    They are powerful agents which function to coordinate behavior and physiology.
    Inducing what could be described as physiological chaos by removing ovarian
    hormones and disrupting the normal functioning of neural and other endocrine systems
    to boot is very likely, in my opinion, to compromise a mares ability to thrive as a fully
    integrated herd member.

    Liked by 1 person

    Dr. Bruce Nock

    Estrogen, for example, is essential for healthy bone. When estrogen production declines due to menopause, whether naturally occurring or surgically induced, or after exposure to radiation or chemotherapeutic
    drugs, bones become brittle and break easily. Spaying mares is likely to have similar effects on bones density and strength. I wonder, does the BLM really think returning mares to the open range in a condition associated with the increased risk of breaking bones is a good idea? Have they given it any thought at all? The image of a horse suffering with a broken leg on the open range due to compromised bone density isn’t a pretty one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is my understanding that letters must be POSTMARKED by midnight today. If you are emailing your public comment letter then today would be acceptable but I would suggest that you ask for a receipt and also email it to yourself when you send it to them – as additional proof that you sent it and when.


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