Beautiful family in South Steens
By Carol Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation
I just returned from 5 days in Burns, Oregon, and while I was there, the BLM finally released their Decision Record for the Mare Sterilization Experiments that they are planning to do at the Short Term Holding Corrals in Hines, Oregon.
Here it is:
They had been sitting on this decision and not releasing it to the public for at least a month, no doubt since it is spectacularly unpopular with the American public. Despite thousands of emailed and mailed comments sent to the BLM in opposition to the plan, as well as thousands more emails and phone calls to Oregon State University, who will be supervising and overseeing the cruel and barbaric experiments, the BLM has tuned a deaf ear and plans to go forward with this, the first in a series of sterilizations for our wild horses. 225 wild mares will be sterilized using three different procedures.
You might ask why. It is because sterilization is the keystone in the BLM’s long term goal of completely eradicating our wild horses from our public lands. Despite hysterical claims of Congressmen and BLM while pushing for approval of the 2017 Appropriations Bill, there is no overpopulation of wild horses and burros on our public lands. In fact, in the vast majority of wild horse herds there are not even enough adult members to ensure genetic viability – 150 minimum according to the leading geneticist for wild horses, Dr. Gus Cothren.
Why am I opposed to this sterilization study of wild mares? First of all, our wild horses do not belong in holding corrals, nor should they be experimented upon like lab rats.
Second, 100 mares in this study are going to be in various stages of pregnancy. The outdated, dangerous and barbaric procedure of ovierectomy via colpotomy will be used by veterinarian Leon Pielstick, and using this method which is NOT used any more because there are much better, safer and more humane methods available. The mares in the early stages of pregnancy are likely to absorb their foals, while those in the later stages may abort their foals. Then there is serious risk of infection given that they are doing the procedures at the Hines Short Term Holding Facility which is anything but a sterile environment, and there is risk of evisceration, hemorrhaging, colic and death. Despite extremely compelling letters from respected equine veterinarians against using this procedure, this will go forward.
Wild mares have never been touched by humans. Even coming close to the fence at the Hines corrals scared these mares. Can you imagine how terrified and panicked these wild mares will be, forced into this squeeze chute, restrained, tranquilized, and being operated upon? Many mares will simply die of fright.
Another very disturbing aspect of this experimentation is the sterilization of foals. They plan to sterilize fillies over 8 months old – they only have to weigh 250 pounds, and they will do laser ablation. Torture of foals who in the wild would still be nursing their mothers is absolutely outrageous. In the wild, fillies don’t usually leave their families until 1 1/2 years old to or 3 years old, once they reach esterus.
Mare and foal in South Steens
Where will these mares come from? Currently at the Hines facility there are 400 wild mares and fillies who were rounded up from the Beaty Butte HMA in November, 2015. But most of the mares have already foaled so they need “fresh mares” that are still pregnant. We were told that 100 more mares will be taken from two upcoming Oregon roundups in the fall at both the Three Fingers Herd Management Area, which will be rounded up by helicopter, and mares from the South Steens Herd which will be bait trapped.
Mare and foal in South Steens
Peacefully grazing in the early morning in South Steens
Will these two South Steens Fillies be in the experiment?
Visiting the South Steens Herd for the first time, I was charmed by these gorgeous, healthy horses whose families were large and who seemed to be very peaceful in close proximity to each other. I tried not to think about what was going to happen to some of these spectacular horses in the herd that is a favorite to many, in a few short months. The horses would be losing their homes, their families, and some will end up being experimented upon and possibly dying. It was also hard to imagine that the wild horses are overpopulating the area given that I counted over 300 head of cattle in the same area, courtesy of the Roaring Springs Ranch.
READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.
Carol’s website is http://www.wildhoofbeats.com/ and you can see her photography of wild horses at http://www.livingimagescjw.com/