The Bureau of Land Management announced that, for the first time in the history of the agency’s wild horse and burro management program, it plans to conduct an invasive surgical procedure on wild mares and establish a non-reproducing population in the Confusion Herd Management Area in Utah.

The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund are committed to advocating that the BLM use proven, safe and humane population growth suppression tools on the range to manage wild horses and burros in their care.

The agency announced plans last week to sterilize wild mares in the field by using an invasive surgical procedure to remove the animals’ ovaries. 

The HSUS and the HSLF do not support surgical sterilization of mares as we do not believe it can be performed in a safe and humane manner in the field. Field implementation of will require rounding up and holding mares for significant periods of time to conduct an invasive surgical procedure on a wild animal and to ensure there are not post-op complications. The cost to taxpayers for putting this into practice would be exorbitant—and it would be fiscally irresponsible since safe, humane and less invasive fertility control tools that are cost-effective are already available—tools that the BLM refuses to implement correctly.

Moreover, the BLM should not proceed with any on-range surgical sterilization projects without first conducting the research necessary to determine if these procedures can be conducted in a safe and humane manner in the field. It has not done so. We 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.

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