Pregnant Mustang. Flickr image by Karla.

BLM Advisory Board recommends sterilization of wild mares

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SALT LAKE CITY (October 30, 2012) – The Cloud Foundation opposes the recommendation of spaying wild horse mares in their native western rangelands. During its meeting in Salt Lake City today, the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board recommended that the agency implement spaying wild horse mares in the field.

“They talk about this mutilation of mares as an immediate response to a crisis,” explains Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation (TCF). “How can they recommend a procedure that is proven to be dangerous and invasive?”

The Arizona-based Conquistador Program obtained information regarding field-testing of mares via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request (pdf). The invasive sterilization procedure was tested on wild horse mares from the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada, and resulted in 10% mortality rate, with recovery taking at least a month.

“This is a very invasive procedure and most veterinarians are reluctant, at best, to even recommend it,” states Donald Moore, DVM, of Fruita, Colorado who questions the ability of BLM to conduct such a dangerous technique. “It is not feasible to perform this surgery in the field. Even if this ill-advised surgery were to be performed, BLM is not equipped to house and handle the mares in a manner that meets an acceptable level of care required for their recovery.”

Even BLM’s vet, Dr. Al Kane USDA-APHIS, expressed concerns regarding this protocol: “It’s a lot more complicated and the potential for complications and side effects is much greater,” he reported to the Advisory Board last year. “The potential effects on herd behavior or individual mare behavior are an issue.”

Spaying mares was proposed in the summer of 2011 on two herds in southern Wyoming. This proposal was met with public outcry and was withdrawn from the table.

The Advisory Board also brought up concerns regarding the ineffectiveness of the immunocontraceptive drug known as PZP. “BLM used PZP on only 1000 mares this past year, and proposes to only use it on 1000 again in 2013,” explains wild horse advocate and TCF board member Linda Hanick. “They have set PZP up for failure and instead are opting for permanent sterilization.”

Spaying of mares largely stems from concerns over the lack of space in BLM holding facilities. BLM faces increased scrutiny since it was revealed that more than 1,700 wild horses being sold to one man, Tom Davis, who apparently sold the horses to slaughter.

“BLM approved Davis’ applications for the purchase of wild horses. The man is a known kill buyer,” states Lauryn Wachs, Associate Director of TCF. “How do you authorize the sale of truckloads of horses and not question where they’re going?”

BLM Assistant Director Ed Roberson confirmed this week that the Department of Interior’s Office of the Inspector General is going to investigate the slaughter allegations. BLM won’t comment on the subject. Meanwhile the Advisory Board continues making dangerous recommendations for the management of wild horses on their native rangelands.

“Ken Salazar should be proud,” says Kathrens of the Secretary of the Interior. “This is an advisory board he has created to manage wild horses to extinction.”

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The Atlantic: Are We Leading Our Wild Horses to Slaughter?

All the Missing Horses: What Happened to the Wild Horses Tom Davis Bought from the Gov’t?

Wild Horses targeted for possible slaughter

Nevada policy change sells its wild horses by the pound

8 thoughts on “BLM Advisory Board recommends sterilization of wild mares”

    1. The scary thing is they are serious. Spaying “in the field”. Even spaying in a veterinary hospital and re-releasing. It is just diabolical. What these people are thinking is beyond me. It is totally irrational. It is totally out of balance with nature, and a heinous crime semi-butchering animals this way. And for what good purpose? Absolutely none. And our tax dollars are paying for this aberration? Any veterinarian who supports and takes part in this atrocity should have their license revoked and not allowed to practice again. Ever. To even entertain the suggestion of it shows a total disregard for the lives of these mares. It is ghoulish.


  1. The BLMs policies against Federally Protected wild horses amount to a program of vivisection and mutilation. These recommendations are against their own mandates of care, against the will of the American public–and add up to monstrous cruelty. How dare they even consider using my tax dollars in this depraved manner.


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