Horse News

BLM Stops Sterilization Experiments, But Returns Very Few Wild Horses and Burros to the Range

BLM Drops Wild Horse Sterilization Experiments, Plans to Return Very Few Horses & Burros to the Range

Burns, Oregon (February 15, 2019)—Wild horse advocacy groups are hailing an announcement today by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to officially abandon any plans to use mares rounded up from Oregon’s Warm Springs Herd Management Area (HMA) for cruel surgical sterilization experiments. Now the BLM is seeking public comments on its plan to return a portion of the wild horses back to the range, after removing the entire population in a mass roundup last fall.

The American Wild Horse Campaign, the Animal Welfare Institute, The Cloud Foundation and its Executive Director Ginger Kathrens, a member of the BLM National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, and photographer Carol Walker sued to stop the sterilization experiments, which involved performing an outdated surgical procedure, ovariectomy via colpotomy, described by veterinarians as unscientific, inhumane and dangerous.

In November of 2018, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction to stop the federal agency from its cruel and controversial plans. The plaintiffs today said they were pleased by the BLM’s official abandonment of the experiments as part of the Warm Springs HMA management plan. The plaintiffs have also advocated for the return of some of the 845 horses rounded up from the Warm Springs HMA in October. Now that the BLM plans to return some of the horses to the range, the agency will administer PZP fertility control to the mares before they are released.

“The BLM’s decision to end its misguided ovariectomy experiments on wild mares in the Warm Springs HMA, and instead employ humane immunocontraceptive vaccines to curb population growth is a welcome outcome for these federally protected horses,” said Joanna Grossman, Ph.D., equine program manager for the Animal Welfare Institute. “We are heartened that these wild and free-roaming animals will not be subjected to an invasive surgical procedure that would put their lives at risk. The agency should, however, return a significant number of the horses back to their range on public lands. With the proper use of PZP, their population can be kept in check.”

“The BLM made the right decision to abandon these barbaric experiments and to return wild horses to the Warm Springs HMA, where they have a right to live in their natural habitat, protected under federal law,” said Brieanah Schwartz, government relations and policy counsel for AWHC. “It’s time for the BLM to focus on humane, publicly supported and scientifically recommended population management methods, such as the proven PZP fertility control to keep wild horses wild and free on our public lands. ”

“We are pleased some mares will regain their freedom and will be managed humanely with PZP,” said Kathrens of The Cloud Foundation. “However, releasing to a low population level of 111 horses seriously endangers the genetic viability of this herd. Leaving only one horse for every 4,000 acres is ridiculous but certainly not unusual and speaks to the unfair allocation of forage for our wild horses.”

“Although I am relieved that the BLM will be releasing a small number of the wild horses removed, Walker said, “I am very concerned about the fate of those who will not be released and face a very uncertain future. Wild Horses and burros are always better off in their homes on our public lands where they belong.”

The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is a national wild horse advocacy organization whose grassroots mission is endorsed by a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations. AWHC is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage.

The Animal Welfare Institute is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates and other important animal protection news.

The Cloud Foundation (TCF) is a Colorado 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation, that grew out of Executive Director Ginger Kathrens’ knowledge and fear for wild horses in the West. TCF works to educate the public about the natural free-roaming behavior and social structure of wild horses and the threats to wild horse and burro society, to encourage the public to speak out for their protection on their home ranges and to support only humane management measures. Kathrens serves as the Humane Advisor on BLM’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board.

Carol Walker is the Director of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation and is a renowned wild horse photographer who regularly photographs wild horses throughout the West, including those living in the Warm Springs HMA.

The plaintiffs in this case are being represented by the public interest law firm Meyer Glitzenstein & Eubanks LLP.

6 replies »

  1. Review

    Warm Springs update: 226 wild horses captured, 8 dead as sterilization study nears
    October 5, 2018

    BLM intends to remove about 652 wild horses from the 475,460-acre Warm Springs Herd Management Area, located about 25 miles west of Burns, Ore., because the agency says it cannot support the estimated population of more than 800 wild horses. “Water availability is currently inadequate to support part of the herd and BLM has been hauling water to sustain approximately 236 animals until they are able to be gathered,” the agency said in a press release.

    Three wild horses, including two foals, have died of injuries suffered during the roundup:
    A 3-year-old black mare suffered a broken neck after running into a panel while captured wild horses were being sorted;

    A 2-month-old pinto filly died of a head injury after being captured;

    A 3-month-old pinto filly died of capture myopathy: muscle damage resulting from extreme exertion, struggle or stress.

    Another five have been put down because of what BLM says were pre-exisiting injuries: two because of spine injuries resulting in severe lameness, a vaginal / rectal tear from foaling, shoulder injury and a head injury causing blindness in both eyes.


  2. From Citizens Against Equine Slaughter

    Posted on February 17, 2019

    One declaration written by Burn’s BLM Rob Sharp to the court stated that if BLM was not able to do the experiments they would not release all 200 horses, which was what the approved plan stated. We called this emotional blackmail then, and after bringing this up on the BLM Facebook page for their wild horse and burro program…just the next day…BLM loads online a new proposed plan to return less than half what was approved in the previous APPROVED plan.

    “Despite the DR being vacated, the conditions that caused the BLM to determine that approximately 652 animals were excess and needed to be removed from the range remain present and necessitate the current decision. To that end, this determination of NEPA adequacy (DNA) assesses whether the 2018 EA adequately analyzed the environmental impact of permanently removing wild horses and burros from the Warm Springs HMA, the proposed return of horses to low appropriate management level (AML) for the HMA, and the treatment of mares to be returned to the HMA with porcine zona pellucida (PZP). This DNA in no part replaces or relies on the 2018 DR, which was vacated in its entirety.”


    BLM — you removed “850 or so” stating “only 652-ish” are to be permanently removed. The following email communication was received by CAES through a FOIA request. Note the author is BLM Public Affairs Specialist Tara Thissell.


  3. From Citizens Against Equine Slaughter

    Go to this link:


    Tell BLM that when conditions remain the same…they have no justification for putting less than half the planned horses back out on the Warm Springs HMA. There was range to support 200 for a study, and they admit conditions remain present, not worse, therefore there is range to support returning 200.


  4. There’s an old adage…”When you see a good fight, jump in”.
    MILLIONS of dollars of taxpayer money have been squandered on livestock contractors that abuse and remove our Federally Protected Wild Horses & Burros from OUR Public Lands in order to please and appease private/corporate interests

    The Upcoming Explosion in Government Contract Litigation

    We are entering a period of unprecedented oversight of federal government contractors. New laws, regulations, and policies are adding layers of complexity to an already overly complex system. There is a growing tendency to point to government contractors of all types as the source of widespread waste, fraud, and abuse. In addition, the government is substantially increasing not only the number of employees dedicated to contract oversight and enforcement but also the authority of investigators. The one “certainty” surrounding the many changes being made is that contractors will be increasingly forced to defend themselves in both administrative and judicial forums. This article presents an overview of some reports issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), executive orders, and statutory changes that have emerged over the last two years and will result in a significant increase in government contract disputes and litigation.

    Click to access The-Upcoming-Explosion-in-Government-Contract-Litigation.aspx


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