The BLM has released more information about its proposed studies of wild horses, that they will be initiating 21 research studies for population control. They will be spending $11 million on these studies which will include spaying of mares, gelding of stallions, chemical castration of stallions, chemical sterilization of stallions, and drugs causing permanent sterilization of mares. These barbaric practices will be performed in the field. The risk of infection and trauma to the wild horses is severe, especially with the likelihood of no medical follow up after these procedures.
The 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act requires managing wild horses and burros in order to maintain sustainable herds. Sterilization is counter to this requirement, and will inevitably lead to the ultimate extinction of our wild horses and burros. The current plans of the BLM require managing 78% of wild horse and burro herds in 10 western states at below genetically viable levels, which require least 150 adults in a herd.
Experimenting on our wild horses and burros is cruel, inhumane and absolutely unnecessary. There are proven methods of birth control that are safe and humane including PZP which has been studied for over 40 years. The Pryor Mountain Herd in Montana, the McCullough Peaks Herd in Wyoming, the Spring Creek Herd and Little Bookcliffs Herd in Colorado are all using PZP to successfully manage population growth, but the BLM refuses to use PZP on other herds.
Earlier this year I traveled to Washington D.C. with other groups to meet with BLM Director Niel Kornze and Deputy Assistant Director Mike Tupper to discuss solutions to wild horse and burro issues. Some of our recommendations included a significant expansion of the number of mares treated with PZP in order to make a difference in population levels as well as possible voluntary retirement of livestock grazing permits in Herd Management Areas. We also discussed returning wild horses currently housed in Long and Short Term Holding facilities to Herd Areas that had been zeroed out. We offered to work with the BLM, and to find volunteers to help.
Mike Tupper was supposed to respond to our proposals but as yet has failed to do so. Instead, the BLM is embarking upon these sterilization studies, without public comment, without oversight, without protection for our wild horses and burros.
Despite the fact that these sterilization studies have been in the works for over a year (first announced in August 2014), the BLM has not released the names of the herds that will be experimented upon, nor have they responded to queries about this.
This unwillingness to work with wild horse advocates and commitment to dangerous and inhumane treatment of our wild horses clearly demonstrates the BLM’s ultimate goal – the destruction of our wild horse and burro herds.