Horse News

Push to accelerate Wild Horse captures draws fire in Congress

Two House committee chairmen are trying to put the brakes on money for a new Trump administration proposal to accelerate the capture of 130,000 wild horses across the West over the next 10 years.

Families broken, freedom lost, prisoners’ of the BLM ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nevada, whose high-desert state is home to about half the mustangs, also is among the bipartisan group of lawmakers sounding alarms about the provision in an Interior Department spending bill being readied for final congressional action.

They say it could result in the “most sweeping changes” in federal protections for mustangs and burros since President Richard Nixon signed them into law nearly a half century ago.

The proposal to speed roundups is based on a comprehensive package of proposals offered in April by an unprecedented coalition of livestock industry interests and animal welfare advocates, including the American Society For the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Humane Society of the United States.

It’s been condemned by the largest mustang protection groups in the West that say it could lead to the extinction of the free-roaming animals.

“It’s a sweeping betrayal of America’s wild herds by the nation’s largest animal welfare groups,” said Suzanne Roy, executive director of the American Wild Horse Campaign.

Backers include the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and American Farm Bureau Federation, which have pushed for the slaughter of excess horses that compete for forage with livestock grazing on U.S. lands.

The animal welfare groups said they’re willing to accept the accelerated roundups in some overpopulated areas to stave off the possibility Congress might otherwise resort to dropping current prohibitions on the use of federal money for slaughter.

The Bureau of Land Management estimates there are 88,000 animals on U.S. rangeland in 10 western states and nearly 47,000 in government holding pens and pastures. They agency contends the range can sustain only 27,000 but critics say there’s no scientific basis for that conclusion.

The version of the bill approved by the Senate includes $35 million for the effort. The House approved $6 million.

House Interior Chairman Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona, and House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-New York, sent the letter this week to a House-Senate panel of appropriation conferees considering a compromise version.

The “untested pilot project … would triple the number of horse and burros in holding and could cost taxpayers billions,” they said. It also “opens the door to surgical sterilization procedures” — something the government has never attempted on free-roaming horses and is staunchly opposed by mustang protection groups.

They said the appropriation committees are short-circuiting the normal process used to write legislation to be funded by the spending panels.

“Fundamental changes to existing law should not be done in spending bills without hearings, testimony, evidence and due consideration by the authorizing committees tasked with these responsibilities,” they wrote.

Other westerners signing the letter include Reps. Deb Haaland, D-New Mexico, chair of the Interior subcommittee on national parks, forests and public lands, Joe Neguse, D-Colorado, and California Democrats Grace Napolitano and Tony Cardenas. Two Republicans signed on — David Schweikert of Arizona and Matt Gaetz of Florida.

The letter urges conferees working to reconcile the House-Senate differences to limit any spending on the pilot program to $6 million. It’s not clear when they will act.

It also seeks clarification of language to prohibit surgical sterilization and restrict any spending for fertility control to one vaccine that’s already being used on the range.

23 replies »

  1. Cattleman! they want all land for cattle to GRAZE ON, as all are aware Cattle and Sheep pull up Grass when Grazing, Horses do not.
    If Congress pass this then Cattleman and Sheep Farmers should have to pay the cost for all round ups and, cost for keeping Horses in holding pens. As well all are aware Horses will soon be sold to Canada, Mexico, China, for Slaughter and Human Consumption.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think this is a good start. But there is much left to do. At least some of our Congressional members are listening. Very surprised at Rep Matt Gaetz as he usually is a rubber stamp for this Administration.

    However, at least putting the brakes on to an unlimited spending again is a start. We also must continue to push for the passage of the Safe Act. Last report I saw there were 215 Cosponsors on the bill which was 3 short of the last Congressional session. A posting recently asked for comments to be sent to the BLM in Nevada. Advocates are spread all over the 50 states and to bring them all together is hard. I suggested that to make a bigger impact, we get together in various states and make videos of our comments and text them to the BLM. We can even forward to those attending the meetings to be sure WE are also heard. Our barn will be getting together Monday, December 16th and are planning to make such a video. Every person who wants to speak can and others can hold up signs. Who knows we will be doing this at a restaurant and other people may want to make comments to outside our group. The point being, WE have to start making a major impact. Just because you live out in the West and you are near Public Lands does not entitled you to run cattle and livestock, drill Wells, fracking and rape the land! Welfare Ranchers and the Good ol Boys have had their way long enough. To my knowledge they have NEVER sought to collect DNA samples from any of these family herds to at least establisah a data base. Many Advocates have kept much needed pictures of the family herds which is extremely valuable. Now this is what they should be spending the money on! It should be used for care and preservation! But NO the BLM and the acting Director have chosen the Path To Extinction of which many of us will fight to the end. A total review of the Adoption process must take place and an overhaul if necessary. I for one want to see that one year ownership GONE! And every Wild Horse or Burros showing up at a kill pen returned to the adoption station! It’s bs because it appears once adopted the BLMs responsibility ends! Not so fast Bucko! That’s totally the wrong approach. They choose to round them up without long or short range goals other than the typical slaughter pipeline! NOT! We need a new advocate committee comprised of people who care! The fight is not over! We must push to reverse the serious damage that has been done and put the brakes on any more funding to this wasteful and destructful Dept. And then give all of them at the BLM their walking papers!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Too many to post in one comment

    David L. Bernhardt
    Interior (joined: July 25, 2017)
    Acting Secretary of the Interior | Deputy Secretary of the Interior | Financial Disclosure » | Resume »

    Bernhardt Brothers Land and Cattle, LLC Managing Member (LLC dissolved in March 2017, subsequent to the submission date.)

    Safari Club International — Foundation Legal Services

    Cadiz Inc. Legal services

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “The letter urges conferees working to reconcile the House-Senate differences to limit any spending on the pilot program to $6 million.”

    This is $6 million too many dollars! The Report to Congress required from the BLM is still missing in action, the BLM Director is only an “actor” and none of this proposal addresses any of the management problems well known from this site. It’s also clear that $6 million is only a start for what is liklely to be a decade of costly destruction of our last wild herds.

    We need our Congress to stand up, enforce our existing laws, freeze funding at current levels, and insist on an investigation of the BLM before loosing any further taxpayer dollars into their hands. There is already an ethics complaint lodged against Pendley awaiting resolution, and he’s already indicated he has many conflicts of interest and will return to private business once his “acting” gig is over. It is a mistake to make permanent, life and death decisions at this time, under these conditions, and at these costs. Congress is being cuckolded into thinking $6 million is a compromise when it is still a lethal option, and only the first step in a much more deadly plan.

    Liked by 2 people


    Two government agencies are working together to reduce the overpopulation of wild horses on America’s public lands, and are seeking public input to research a single-dose contraceptive vaccine. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Nevada State Office in cooperation with U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s National Wildlife Research Center announce the availability of a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) regarding a proposed population growth suppression study that would test the contraceptive effects of an OOCYTE growth factor vaccine for use with wild horses and burros.

    A 15-day public comment period on the preliminary environmental assessment is set for December 5 – 19, 2019. The public is encouraged to review DOI-BLM-NV-0000-2020-001-EA (Oocyte Growth Factor Vaccine Study), located at: and provide comments or concerns, prior to 4:30 p.m. (PST) on December 19, 2019. Comments and concerns may be emailed to or sent in writing to the BLM Nevada State Office, Attention: Ruth Thompson, Wild Horse and Burro Project Coordinator, 1340 Financial Boulevard, Reno, NV 89502.

    Liked by 1 person

      • This is shocking, since CSU supposedly formally backed out of wild horse sterilization efforts being promoted by the BLM, as did other credible universities. The Appendix A document provided above starts out in the Abstract with the incredible claim that “remarkably, equine fertilization rates approach 100%, including in those considered wild.” This is possibly true in the lab, but as a lifelong horse owner/trainer/breeder it is common knowledge that domestic mare conception rates fluctuate between 60-80%, with mares aborting for just about anything prior to delivering a live foal. This assertion (unsubstantiated, just claimed here) makes me suspect their other assumptions.

        So I looked up the address in the proposal, and it is the National Wildlife Research Center, USDA-APHIS, affiliated with Colorado State University. The proposal here indicates it is a continuation of one ALREADY UNDERWAY which seeks to “long term” sterilize mares with a single dose of a “vaccine.” The principal researcher seems to have begun in Utah and spent a significant period in New Zealand before returning to CSU in 2013. It seems this person is Dr. Douglas C. Ekery from the authorization overlap in the four provided publications.

        These are researchers applying for and using grant money made available by the BLM (and perhaps other sources) so I don’t fault the researchers unless there is an undeclared conflict of interest. The work, though, has already been underway for some years it seems, and this application (dated July 15, 2019) shows a start date of Nov. 2019 and an end date of Oct. 15, 2022. It’s not clear if it was funded but since it is a continuation of prior research it most likely is already underway.

        At a minimum, no on-range actions should be taken unless and until this research is completed, peer-reviewed and published (as is standard practice for credible research). The public should be able to see the data and results, as well as any negatives, before any widespread use of this approach is undertaken. Irreversible, lethal actions (I include here the death of future generations) need careful, measured, and transparent consideration, a combination which the BLM is not noted for.

        The relevant publications listed name these as principal authors:

        1.) Effects of immunization against bone morphogenetic protein-15 and growth differentiation factor-9 on ovarian function in mares.

        Kelli A.Davis, Kristin M. Klohonatza, Darcy S.O.Morab, Hannah M.Twenter, Peter E.Graham, PabloPinedo, Douglas C. Eckery, Jason E.Bruemmer

        Author information:
        Davis KA1, Klohonatz KM1, Mora DSO2, Twenter HM1, Graham PE1, Pinedo P1, Eckery DC2, Bruemmer JE3.
        Author information

        Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA.
        USDA National Wildlife Research Center, Fort Collins, CO, USA.
        Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA.

        Conflict of Interest
        We wish to confirm that there are no known conflicts of interest associated with this publication and there has been no significant financial support for this work that could have influenced its outcome.
        We confirm that the manuscript has been read and approved by all named authors and that there are no other persons who satisfied the criteria for authorship but are not listed. We further confirm that the order of authors listed in the manuscript has been approved by all of us.

        This work was supported by the Bureau of Land Management (L15AC00144)

        2). Reimmunization increases contraceptive effectiveness of gonadotropin-releasing hormone vaccine (GonaCon-Equine) in free-ranging horses (Equus caballus): Limitations and side effects

        Dan L. Baker, Jenny G. Powers, Jason I. Ransom, Blake E. McCann, Michael W. Oehler, Jason E. Bruemmer, Nathan L. Galloway, Douglas C. Eckery, Terry M. Nett

        Dr. Eckery is an assistant director for the NWRC. He was the project leader for NWRC’s Contraceptive Technologies for Use in Wildlife Population and Disease Management Project. His research is aimed towards the development of new methods of fertility control that can be integrated into wildlife management strategies. Dr. Eckery spent 17 years in New Zealand researching the reproductive biology of the brushtail possum and investigating methods of fertility control for this species, and he played a key role in establishing the National Research Centre for Possum Biocontrol. He is an adjunct faculty of the School of Biological Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington (NZ) and the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University where he is also an affiliated faculty of the Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory.

        About the Authors

        Dan L. Baker

        Contributed equally to this work with: Dan L. Baker, Jenny G. Powers, Jason I. Ransom
        Roles Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Funding acquisition, Investigation, Project administration, Resources, Supervision, Validation, Visualization, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing
        Affiliation Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory, Department of Biological Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, United States of America

        Jenny G. Powers

        Contributed equally to this work with: Dan L. Baker, Jenny G. Powers, Jason I. Ransom
        Roles Conceptualization, Funding acquisition, Investigation, Methodology, Resources, Visualization, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing
        Affiliation Biological Resources Division, National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado, United States of America

        Jason I. Ransom

        Contributed equally to this work with: Dan L. Baker, Jenny G. Powers, Jason I. Ransom

        Roles Conceptualization, Data curation, Formal analysis, Funding acquisition, Investigation, Methodology, Software, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing
        Affiliation Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, United States of America

        Blake E. McCann

        Roles Funding acquisition, Resources, Supervision, Writing – review & editing
        Affiliation Theodore Roosevelt National Park, National Park Service, Medora, North Dakota, United States of America

        Michael W. Oehler

        Roles Conceptualization, Funding acquisition, Resources, Writing – review & editing
        Affiliation Theodore Roosevelt National Park, National Park Service, Medora, North Dakota, United States of America

        Jason E. Bruemmer

        Roles Conceptualization, Methodology, Resources, Validation, Writing – review & editing
        Affiliation Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory, Department of Biological Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, United States of America

        Nathan L. Galloway
        Roles Formal analysis, Validation, Writing – review & editing
        Affiliation Biological Resources Division, National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado, United States of America

        Douglas C. Eckery

        Roles Data curation, Resources, Writing – review & editing
        Affiliation National Wildlife Research Center, Wildlife Services, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Fort Collins, Colorado, United States of America

        Terry M. Nett

        Roles Conceptualization, Funding acquisition, Methodology, Resources, Writing – review & editing

        Affiliation Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory, Department of Biological Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, United States of America

        Competing Interests

        The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

        3.) Effects of vaccination against GDF9 and BMP15 on fertility and ovarian function in white-tailed deer.

        Douglas C. Eckery
        Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

        Lowell A. Miller
        USDA APHIS WS National Wildlife Research Center, Fort Collins, Colorado

        Gary J. Killian (now retired)
        USDA APHIS WS National Wildlife Research Center, Fort Collins, Colorado

        Anthony J. DeNicola
        White Buffalo Inc., Moodus, Connecticut

        4.) Novel Management Methods: Immunocontraception and Other Fertility Control Tools

        Giovanna Massei
        National Wildlife Management Centre, Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA), Sand Hutton, York, UK

        Dave Cowan
        National Wildlife Management Centre, Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA), Sand
        Hutton, York, UK

        Douglas Eckery
        USDA APHIS National Wildlife Research Center, Fort Collins, CO, USA


      • I checked out and linked to the four articles referenced, and the address shown in the proposal as that of the applicant. I hope it will post here, but may have included too many links. The upshot is this is an ongoing study, involved Colorado State University affiliates and employees, and (if funded again) started last month and will run through Oct. 2022.

        Two points rise for me: one being this has been happening under the radar, as CSU formally pulled out of the former BLM sterilization “research” proposals, and two: no permanent on-range decisions should be made by the BLM until this research is completed, peer-reviewd and published, otherwise why even do it, since the goal is lasting or permanent sterilization of what will be inevitably shrinking populations.

        The Abstract provided for Appendix A also starts out with an unsupported claim that all horses “remarkably” regularly conceive at rates at or near 100%, which might be true in the laboratory but is easily disproven in domestic mares. Most of my long life with horses (including breeding) puts the conception rate between 60-80%, with the caveat that mares will often abort at the drop of a hat. We also have little credible, independently verified data on wild mare conception rates, abortion rates, and foal mortality.

        We need to insist on a BLM budget freeze until we have better accountability and verifiable research results, followed by a transparent and equitable public process.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. So here we are again with Colorado State University being involved with this “””study”””. But these mares will be held at a BLM facility with BLM employees & BLM veterinarians doing the hands on work! What happens at the end? They are returned to “client”. Not released nor according to this – not euthanized!! Remind me – was it Colorado State that was involved in one of the earlier “studys”? One of the most worrisome takeaways from this (all of it ) is if they are successful, they will be able to PERMANENTLY sterilize as many wild horses – or for that matter ANY wild mammal as they want. Right now when we are having this mass extinction of other species & the goal for these people is to remove & make extinct yet another!
    Gail has a super idea – I am guessing that there are many equine facilities that have no knowledge or possibly interest – in our wild horses. Seems like that would be a good place to make a start. I remember when I did have a horse & boarded him – I’m pretty sure no one there had an inkling of whats being done to our wild horses – including me!! I have to admit – I was a late starter at this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • One particularly troubling aspect of sterilizations is that the general public cannot see that the “wild” horses they may visit are indeed being intentionally (though slowly) killed off. If you are photographing wild bands, say, or showing your kids part of their natural heritage, it will take some critical observing to notice gelded males, for one, and recognize that few or no foals is not a natural event, but one we paid for. The horses and burros, though, will pay in the highest measure. We all bear responsibility for these outcomes.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This roundup ended with 456 captured, 24 released and 1 killed onsite for club foot.
    This was the Destoya roundup! Really cannot fathom the idea that this bunch “euthanizes” horses with a clubfoot when its very obvious that they survived very well BEFORE they were run for however many minutes/hours & captured. I have seen domestic horses with clubfoot – its not always a life-threatening problem – and certainly wasnt for this horse until the BLM got their grimy fingers on him(or her). Just like so many issues that these horses manage to survive and have a good life until they are captured!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Preliminary Environmental Assessment DOI-BLM-NV-0000-2020-0001-EA Oocyte Growth Factor Vaccine Study

    “Foals born to wild mares in the NNCC would have wild horse legal status, and would stay with their mother through the age of weaning (typically 6 months or older). BLM would seek to place these foals into private care through adoption.”


  9. Preliminary Environmental Assessment DOI-BLM-NV-0000-2020-0001-EA Oocyte Growth Factor Vaccine Study

    “If the oocyte growth factor vaccine causes permanent infertility in some or all of treated mares, then that would be consistent with the desired contraceptive effect, and would be similar in outcome to mares treated multiple times with existing PZP vaccines to suppress reproduction, where some horses can become sterile from repeated multiple PZP doses”


  10. Question: Has anyone found the EPA data for the chemicals planned to be used on the mares in this “new” contraception method to be used at the Carson City Prison?
    More specifically, are they listed as “pesticide” as PZP is?

    So for those of us who are still learning … what is a “pesticide” versus a “vaccine”?
    By definition, a pesticide is a product designed to DESTROY organisms deemed to be undesirable or noxious.

    Chemical or biological substance designed to KILL or retard the growth of pests that damage or interfere with the growth or crops, shrubs, trees, timber and other vegetation DESIRED BY HUMANS. Practically all chemical pesticides, however, are poisons and pose long-term danger to the environment and humans through their persistence in nature and body tissue. Most of the pesticides are non-specific, and may kill life forms that are harmless or useful.

    Any preparation used as a preventive inoculation to confer immunity against a specific DISEASE usually employing an innocuous form of the disease agent, as killed or weakened bacteria or viruses, to stimulate antibody production.

    PZP is NOT a vaccine … it is a PESTICIDE.


  11. Congress, Please Save our Living History. So many Horses have been killed by our Government Our it is horrific to think about and hear about their terrible fate. Our Wild Horses & Burros are being killed, tortured, by our Government BLM. You Along with the President Must do something to save these animals. It is mainly so the Cattle Rancher can graze his animals on the peoples land, it is Wrong!!!! Congress, Please do something!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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