A wild horse advocacy group has voiced its opposition to sterilization experiments to be carried out on wild mares held in captivity.
Wild Horse Freedom Federation(WHFF) says it is opposed to the plan by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to get the assistance of Oregon State University to conduct sterilization research on 225 wild mares held at federal agency’s short-term holding facility in Burns, Oregon.
The nonprofit group alleges opposition to the plan is being disregarded by the BLM and believes it will press ahead with the plan. The charity believes the BLM will post its Decision Record on the matter on April 15, after a scheduled meeting of the agency’s Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board.
Opponents to the BLM’s plan include veterinarian Don Moore, used as an expert by WHFF, who notes: “Wild mares will not have their surgeries performed in a sterile surgical suite. Their surgery will be performed in a non-sterile chute or standing in stocks at the local BLM facility without benefit of routine standard of care.
“Unlike domestic mares who are easily handled, the very handling of these wild mares presents additional pre-operative stressors, which cannot be mitigated.”
Moore argues that the BLM “does not possess the statutory authority to treat America’s wild free roaming mares as research test subjects to perform surgeries which are not the standard of care for domestic mares”.
He continues: “All horses should be judged the same when it concerns care. Elective, unethical treatment should not be performed on either domestic horses or wild horses.”
Moore said the BLM gave the impression that all wild horse areas were overpopulated when, in fact, most wild-horse areas did not have a genetically sustainable population without intervention.
“This is due to over manipulation of herds to promote adoption, decreasing original herd-use areas and allowing livestock to overgraze our public lands.
“Once again, BLM is exceeding the statutory authority granted by Congress in the management of our wild horses.”
WHFF’s director of field documentation, Carol Walker, said: “Our wild horses are feeling, sentient beings deserving of our care and respect.” The experiments, she argued, would be cruel and unnecessary.
The group’s founder and president, R. T. Fitch, questioned the BLM’s legal standing and authority to conduct such research on federally protected wild horses.
“It is difficult to believe that it is possible but the BLM is entering into, yet, even more extreme areas of abuse and inhumane treatment of our wild equines while dragging a public institution of higher education into the fray.”
The charity says it is organizing a public email campaign calling upon the leadership of Oregon State University to rethink its involvement with the proposal and to withdraw its support before the April 13 meeting of the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board.
More information on the email campaign can be found here.