In an unprecedented move over the weekend, the Bureau of Land Management began gathering and removing wild horses from land in Utah with the intent to use an invasive surgical procedure to remove the ovaries of select mares. The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund objected to the Department of Interior’s plan in a letter sent to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, urging the BLM to instead focus the agency’s limited resources on employing already available forms of proven, safe and humane fertility control tools to manage wild horse populations.
The organizations do not support surgical sterilization of mares because there is no evidence that it can be performed in a safe and humane manner in the field.
“This plan puts the lives of wild horses at risk, and the cost to taxpayers would be exorbitant. Field implementation will require gathering and holding mares for significant periods of time to conduct invasive surgical procedures on these wild animals and to ensure there are no post-operative complications,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “Safe, humane and less invasive fertility control tools that are cost-effective are already available, yet the BLM continually refuses to implement them correctly or at the scale needed.”
The organizations emphasize that the BLM should not proceed with any population control projects based on surgical sterilization of mares without first conducting the research necessary to determine if these procedures can be conducted in a safe and humane manner in the field. For these reasons, the HSUS and HSLF strongly oppose the establishment of a non-reproducing herd component to the Confusion Herd Management Area in Utah by surgically sterilizing a proportion of the mares by ovariectomy via colpotomy.