Horse Health

New Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Oppose Risky Sterilization Experiments on Wild Horses

Source: Animal Welfare Institute

Seventy-seven percent of Americans are opposed to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) proposed surgical sterilization experiments on wild horses, according to a newly released survey.

8 month old fillies at BLM’s Hines, Oregon holding facility…waiting for the “experiments” to begin (2016)~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The survey of more than 2,000 adults was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI).

Since 2016, the BLM—the federal agency primarily responsible for overseeing wild horses on public lands—has attempted to move forward with a controversial research proposal using an outdated surgical procedure known as “ovariectomy via colpotomy” on a herd of wild horses from the Warm Springs Herd Management Area in Oregon.

The goal of these experiments, where a metal rod-like tool is inserted blindly in order to sever a mare’s ovaries while the animal remains conscious, is to quantify risks and complications, including death.

The National Academy of Sciences explicitly advised the BLM not to use this surgical procedure on wild horses due to the risks involved, including trauma and infection. Under the BLM’s current proposal, as many as 25 surgeries would be conducted each day at one of the agency’s corrals in nonsterile conditions. The wild horses subjected to the procedure would receive minimal post-operative care.

The BLM’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, charged with advising the agency on a wide range of wild horse management issues, is scheduled to meet at the end of October in Washington, DC Board members are expected to consider the proposed experiments and could potentially vote on recommendations regarding the BLM’s plan. The board is accepting public comments through October 18.

In November 2018, AWI secured a victory in federal court that blocked the BLM’s previous attempt to pursue these reckless experiments. Earlier this year, members of Congress in both the House and Senate condemned the use of ovariectomy via colpotomy on wild horses.

“Federal lawmakers and the American public have repeatedly stressed the need for the BLM to humanely manage wild horses—iconic and beloved symbols of the West,” said Dr. Joanna Grossman, equine program manager for AWI. “The BLM’s aggressive pursuit of mass surgical sterilization experiments ignores the wishes of a majority of Americans, wastes taxpayer dollars, and endangers the welfare and lives of federally protected wild horses.”

More information on survey methodology:

The survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of the AWI from October 8-10, 2019 among 2,027 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample; therefore, no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact

9 replies »

  1. Medical Malpractice Related to Unnecessary Surgery
    By Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, P.C.

    “Unnecessary surgery is a type of medical malpractice. A form of medical malpractice that has become an alarming and growing problem in the U.S. is unnecessary surgery.
    This type of malpractice can lead to life-threatening complications and completely alter an individual’s life. When a surgeon performs and unnecessary surgery, it is an act of medical negligence. Doctors should take every precaution before deciding to prescribe any type of invasive surgery to a patient. When there is a failure to do this and it results in unnecessary surgery, they may be held legally liable. Unnecessary surgery can lead to serious or even life-threatening complications. Some of the risks include hemorrhaging, damage to organs, infection, amputation and anesthesia errors. Putting animals through unnecessary surgery where they face complications that could significantly alter their life is a form of medical negligence.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Elective surgery in domestic animals is always preceded by permission of the owners. Why aren’t the American public (who are expected to pay the BLM for this endless fixation on ovariectomy) being asked to vote on this first? With over 325 million stakeholders it is unlikely any significant number would want to pay for such barbarism, with such little return and high risks.

      Liked by 1 person


    EPA Announces Plan to End Required Animal Tests for Chemical Safety Testing
    Sep 10, 2019

    The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine praised an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision to phase out animal testing of chemical products. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced today that animal testing will be substantially reduced in six years and phased out by 2035.
    The change comes after years of work by the Physicians Committee, first to pass a 2016 bill that mandated reductions in EPA animal use, and then to help regulators and product manufacturers to implement nonanimal research methods.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is good news, but I don’t see a connection to wild horses and burros. This EPA decision relates only to animal testing of chemicals and products intended for human health applications.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No, it’s just a start, but shows that public opinion is getting results. What I really wanted to show is the organization Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. They are working to stop ALL animal experimentation. They have even taken on the military.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t see the BLM’s approach here as “experiments” or even “research” since there can be no doubt those unfortunate mares and fillies in their care who die or have their ovaries cruelly excised will of course no longer reproduce.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think the official term is “research”

        Congressional letter opposing project sent to U.S. Interior Secretary

        On June 21, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., who co-chairs the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, led a bipartisan letter signed by 30 members of the Congress to U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.
        The letter criticized the BLM’s proposal for its fourth attempt to proceed with the controversial surgical sterilization experiments.
        “While we understand the BLM’s need to manage populations of wild horses, we are concerned about the rationale behind the decision to employ the ‘ovariectomy via colpotomy’ method as a means of mass sterilization and are seeking clarification as to whether the agency has taken into account some of the unusual circumstances and disconcerting factors surrounding this project,” reads the letter.
        In light of the court ruling in November and the following suggested changes to the experiment protocol which “appeared arbitrary and capricious,” the letter writers “urge the BLM to abandon plans to pursue these experiments.”

        Liked by 1 person

  3. From The Cloud Foundation

    Dear Friends,

    Despite three successful lawsuits stopping this procedure, two universities pulling out, and enormous public outcry, BLM still plans on moving forward with its plans to rip the ovaries out of mares.
    Please stand with us to tell BLM “NO!”. Send the linked sign-on letter to your veterinarian. Most have an email address listed on their website. The more signatures we have, the more influence.
    No caring person wants to see these mares go through this torturous procedure with little in the way of aftercare. Together, we can tell BLM that scores of licensed veterinarians do NOT endorse this cruel procedure.
    CLICK HERE, copy the link into an email, and send to your veterinarian. We’ve provided sample text below to make it as easy as possible for you.

    We have 47 signatures already, our goal is to have 100 by Oct. 25th, just 10 days away. We will then present it to the BLM Advisory Board in Washington, D.C. On October 30th.

    Thank you for your efforts to save our wild horses and burros from human cruelty.
    For the wild ones,
    Dana Zarrello
    Deputy Director
    The Cloud Foundation
    You can read more about “The Case Against Ovariectomy” here.
    For details of the latest on-going legal action click here.
    Photo credit: Ginger Kathrens, Sandwash Basin

    Sample Text:
    Dear Dr. XX
    I’m a client of your practice, you might remember my pets (insert names here). I’m also an advocate for America’s wild horses and burros.
    You might not be aware, but the Bureau of Land Management is preparing to perform a sterilization procedure on wild mares, with the intent of eventually taking it into the field. Many reputable equine veterinarians advise strongly against this procedure due to the non-sterile environment, risk of infection, colic and even evisceration.
    I’m asking you to please take a moment to read the letter linked HERE and add your name to the long list of veterinarians who opposed this procedure.
    Thank you for your time,
    (Your Name)


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