Complaint filed over plans for sterilization research on US wild mares

Wild horses being held at the BLM's facility in Burns, Oregon. Photo: Mike Lorden
Wild horses being held at the BLM’s facility in Burns, Oregon. Photo: Mike Lorden

A challenge is being mounted against planned sterilization experiments to be conducted on wild horses through an Oregon State University (OSU) research project.

The proposed research has the backing of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the federal agency charged with maintaining America’s wild horses.

Wild horse advocacy groups this week filed a formal complaint to halt what they described as barbaric sterilization experiments.

The complaint from the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) and the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group (SRWHMG) was addressed to the BLM and the university’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, the university’s vice-president for research, and the Office of Research Integrity.

The groups initially presented the complaint last Wednesday at a public meeting of the BLM’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board.

They provided the board with video of the proposed procedure and statements from eyewitnesses and veterinarians who questioned the safety and scientific integrity of the experiments.

They also presented the BLM with more than 21,000 comments from citizens opposed to the agency’s plans.

“It’s unconscionable for OSU and the BLM to subject wild mares – most of which 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,” AWHPC executive director Suzanne Roy said.

The BLM reportedly plans to subject the mares to a surgical procedure called ovariectomy via colpotomy. It involves a veterinarian cutting into a mare’s vaginal wall, placing a hand and arm through the vagina into the abdominal cavity, manually locating the ovaries and severing them with a specialist tool.

Up to 100 wild mares held at the BLM’s corrals in Hines, Oregon, would be used in the research.

The groups assert that the procedure would put mares at risk for death from hemorrhage, infection, and 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, they argue.

They noted that, in wild horses, it was not possible to provide the same post-surgical care available to domestic animals.

They also argued that removing mares’ ovaries would change the natural, wild behaviors of the animals, just as it changed the behavior of domestic horses.

They groups want the BLM to back away from the experiments and pursue more widespread use of a 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.

In its complaint, the groups are calling for intervention to stop the research. Approval, it argued, should be withheld because the well-being of the wild horses cannot be ensured and post-operative care cannot be adequately provided. Such surgery was dangerous and impractical in a field setting, and pain and suffering cannot be minimized.

They argue that the BLM’s analysis of the research was based on incomplete information.

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8 thoughts on “Complaint filed over plans for sterilization research on US wild mares

  • April 21, 2016 at 10:10 am

    It’s too dangerous for the horses and burro not to mention OSU pre med students will b involved in this “experiment” leave these animals alone ..

  • April 22, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    Hurgically removing the Mares Ovaries is barbaric and dangerous. It may result in the death of many mares and many more aborted pregnancies in the pregnant mares in the study !

  • April 22, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    I can’t believe this barbaric and cruel procedure is even a consideration to any living creature, let alone mares. It’s absolutely horrid and is animal abuse. It’s a life threatening and painful way of not only killing off an entire herd of horses. How on earth did anybody come up with such a horrendous thing to do…. Let me shove my fist inside and yank out your internal organs. Yeah, that’s a logical solution. Morons.

  • April 23, 2016 at 10:49 am

    This is the most aggressive and inhumane way to treat horses, wild or domestic. I would never allow this to be done on my own horse with hospital care, nonetheless in an open field with no proper medical care.

  • April 23, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    We need to stop the sterilization plan of wild mustangs. It is brutal and inhuman. Our wild horses need protection from BLM and anyone else who harms them. We the public want our mustangs and buroes protected not harmed. Stop this sterilization now!

  • August 21, 2016 at 6:31 am

    I am absolutely outraged and disgusted with the thought of this type of sterilization to MARES…… What a barbaric way to treat any animal. What is so tough on you to use the technique of the PVP Vaccine? It is humane and easy to administer and is proven to work. Cost too much MONEY? Well maybe we need to stop sending so much money over seas to people who hate us and start taking care of us, our land and wild life here.

    • August 22, 2016 at 3:46 am



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