Federal Judge Stops Cruel Wild Horse Sterilization Experiment in Oregon

Wild horse advocates are celebrating a victory in Oregon, thanks to a federal judge who shut down a cruel and controversial plan to sterilize wild mares in the state.

This past June, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) put forward a proposal aimed at managing herd size by performing outdated and inhumane sterilization surgeries that would remove the ovaries of 100 wild mares, including pregnant mares, who have been rounded up from the Warm Springs Herd Management Area in Oregon.

The procedure, which is officially known as ovariectomy via colpotomy, is described by the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) as “literally reaching into a mare’s abdominal cavity through an incision in the vaginal wall, blindly and without any tool to visualize the mare’s organs, to identify the ovaries by touch and to remove them by severing them with a loop of chain.”

The experiment was designed to study the impacts of the procedure on the horses to see if it’s a viable solution to managing herds, and was supposed to be conducted in partnership with Colorado State University (CSU) beginning this month.

However, after the public comment period ended in August with massive public opposition, CSU withdrew from the project, yet the BLM announced it would proceed anyway – even though going forward without the university meant there would be no welfare observations conducted for the mares used, which was a huge part of how the agency was supposed to figure out whether or not the procedure is “humane.”

In September, a coalition of organizations and individuals, including the Animal Welfare Institute, The Cloud Foundation and its executive director Ginger Kathrens, the AWHC and wildlife photographer Carol Walker, who is also a director of field documentation for the Wild Horse Freedom Federation, filed a lawsuit in federal court, and filed a preliminary injunction in October, ultimately seeking to stop the BLM from moving forward with this dangerous procedure that would put mares at serious risk for complications and death.

They argued that the BLM’s refusal to allow observers to document what happens to these mares violated their First Amendment rights, along with violating other federal laws.

Now, they’re celebrating a victory. U.S. District Court Judge Michael W. Mosman just issued a preliminary injunction preventing the BLM from moving forward until a final decision is made in the case.

“We thank the court for preventing the BLM from proceeding with a reckless and inhumane surgical sterilization experiment that would endanger the welfare and lives of federally protected wild horses,” said Joanna Grossman, equine program manager for the Animal Welfare Institute. “Today’s ruling is a decisive victory for animal welfare and for the American people, who not only cherish wild horses but have a First Amendment right to understand how the federal government is treating and managing these herds on public lands.”

This win marks the second time animal advocacy groups have successfully shut down the BLM from performing this procedure on wild mares, and it will hopefully be the last time legal action is needed stop it, especially when there is a better alternative available to manage wild horses on the range.

“Hopefully, BLM will rethink their decision to move forward with the most inhumane and impractical management tool imaginable,” said Kathrens. “For decades, humane fertility vaccines have been available and, where used, have been successful. Unfortunately, BLM has resisted getting out on the range and using them. Now is the time for the agency to change course.”

Photo credit: Getty Images

79 comments

Jack Y
Jack Y1 months ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y1 months ago

thanks

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John J
John J1 months ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J1 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Jack Y
Jack Y1 months ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y1 months ago

thanks

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Greta L
Greta L4 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Daniel N
Past Member 4 months ago

thanks very much

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Shae L
Shae Lee4 months ago

Thank You for Sharing This !!!

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ANA MARIJA R
ANA MARIJA R4 months ago

WOW Thank You Judge Michael W. Mosman! thank you for the first encouraging news today :)

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