Government Agency Revives Plans for Cruel and Deadly Horse Sterilization Experiments


The United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is once again callously planning to sterilize wild horse mares using a gruesome procedure so inhumane that many veterinarians refuse to perform it. The surgery, called ovariectomy via colpotomy, is controversial even for domestic mares who are used to human handling and given normal surgical protections such as sterile conditions, anesthesia, and complete long-term aftercare. The situation at the Burns Corral in Oregon, where the deadly experiments are slated to take place, is not conducive to any of those conditions.

“This experiment inflicts extreme pain and suffering upon innocent wild mares and often results in their ultimate death,” said Marilyn Kroplick M.D., President of In Defense of Animals. “The BLM is ignoring its history of unsuccessful attempts at this appalling ovariectomy via colpotomy experiment on wild horses. In Defense of Animals stands against this medieval torture experiment and we encourage everyone to speak out to prevent these perverse and deadly experiments on wild horses.”

A wild mare and foal seen in Nevada. Image credit James Marvin Phelps, CC BY-SA 3.0.

This is the third time that the Bureau has tried to perform the cruel experiment on wild horse mares, under the guise of a “study.” After two major universities dropped out, lawsuits, and massive public outcry, the first two attempts were abandoned by the Bureau. Many thousands of In Defense of Animals supporters wrote to both of the universities initially involved, and also to the BLM in protest of this vile procedure from their past attempts.

A disturbing video shows and describes the brutal ovariectomy via colpotomy procedure performed on a fully-conscious but immobilized burro. Of a total of six horses and burros in the study, two died. The remaining four only survived after “intensive post-operative veterinary care.”

Wild horses at a sanctuary in Wyoming. Image credit Jana Wilson, CC BY-SA 3.0.

It is difficult to comprehend why the Bureau is continuing to push for this cruel, expensive, and deeply unpopular study when other more humane and proven fertility control options are readily available. U.S. Representatives Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Dina Titus (D-NV) have already proposed appropriations spending for humane wild horse fertility control programs.

The BLM has likely been emboldened to re-attempt its sterilization experiment following a recent collaboration with livestock industry lobbying groups, the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and Return to Freedom (RTF.) With the support of these organizations, the BLM requested appropriations funding for “population growth suppression methods.” This intentionally vague language has now opened the door for BLM to move ahead once again with its brutally cruel ovariectomy via colpotomy proposal.

Take action: the BLM is accepting public comments on the proposal until May 27.

Featured image: a wild horse looks into the camera in Lincoln County, Nevada. Image credit James Marvin Phelps, CC BY-SA 3.0.

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In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 valued supporters and a 30-year history of protecting animals, people and the environment through education, campaigns and hands on rescue facilities in India, Africa, and rural Mississippi. Our main headquarters are established in San Rafael, California. Click to see author's profile.

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