Wild horse advocates file complaint to stop inhumane BLM/OSU sterilization experiments
Tomorrow: Will address BLM Advisory Board; Release graphic video/eyewitness testimony of “barbaric” surgical procedures
Redmond, Ore. (April 12, 2016) - Wild horse advocacy groups this week filed a formal complaint with Oregon State University to halt barbaric sterilization experiments on wild mares the university is planning in conjunction with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
At tomorrow’s meeting of the BLM National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board in Redmond, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWPC) and Salt River Wild Horse Management Group will call on the BLM to scrap plans to perform an inhumane surgical sterilization experiments on more than 200 mares held in the BLM’s wild horse corrals in Hines, Ore.
The groups will provide links to graphic video, an eyewitness declaration and statements from veterinarians who question the safety and scientific integrity of the proposed experiments.
And they will present the BLM with more than 21,000 comments from citizens opposed to the agency’s plans, comments that the BLM is currently refusing to officially acknowledge.
“It’s unconscionable for OSU and the BLM to subject wild mares – most of whom are pregnant – to painful and risky experiments that will cause many to have abortions and which will put mares at risk for serious injury, infection and death,” said AWHPC Director Suzanne Roy.
The BLM plans to subject the mares to a surgical procedure called “ovariectomy via colpotomy,” which involves a veterinarian cutting into a mare’s vaginal wall, placing his hand and arm through the vagina into the abdominal cavity, manually (and blindly) locating the ovaries, then severing them with a rod-like chain tool called an ecraseur.
Simone Netherlands, president of the Salt River Horse Management Group, said she witnessed the planned procedure being performed on horses and was “appalled” but its brutality. She said the horses’ suffering and the severity of their wounds as a result of the surgery was apparent.
She called on authorities to investigate past uses of the procedure and its overall safety.
“Wild horses and burros are often seen as not important. However a wild mare without a name, is just exactly as important as a high-value performance horse; the amount of suffering is the same,” Netherlands said. “If you would not perform this surgery on your own favorite horse or on a million-dollar performance horse then don’t perform it on our wild horses and burros, who are highly valued by the public.”
Advocates and veterinarians say that ovariectomy via colpotomy puts mares at risk for death from hemorrhage and infection and for evisceration – the protrusion of the bowel through the surgical incision.
Additionally, more than 75 percent of the mares in the experiment are pregnant and the procedure will cause many to suffer abortions.
In wild horses, it’s not possible to provide the same post-surgical care available to domestic animals. The mares can’t be forcibly restrained to prevent movement after surgery, nor would the wild horses be provided with antibiotics and pain relief after surgery.
In addition to these risks, removing mares’ ovaries will also change the natural, wild behaviors of the animals, just as it changes the behavior of domestic horses.
Rather than pursue the experiments, advocates urged the BLM to pursue more widespread use of humane fertility control vaccine as a way to manage wild horse populations on federal lands.
“Instead of wasting millions of tax dollars to fund experiments on inhumane, impractical and invasive surgical sterilization experiments, the agency should instead focus resources on using the PZP vaccine to safely control population numbers without impacting the natural behaviors of wild horses and without subjecting them to the risk of pain, suffering and death,” Roy said.
The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is dedicated to defending America’s wild horses and burros to protect their freedom, preserve their habitat, and promote humane standards of treatment. AWHPC’s mission is endorsed by a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations.
The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group is an Arizona non-profit organization established to protect, monitor and scientifically study the Salt River Wild Horses. The SRWHMG has been spearheading the effort to secure lasting protections for this iconic and beloved wild horse herd in the Tonto National Forest.