or Immediate Release
Sept. 9, 2016
Jenni Best, associate attorney, FoA’s Wildlife Law Program 720.949.7791; jennifer@friendsofanimals.org
Mike Harris, Director, Wildlife Law Program; 720.949.7791; michaelharris@friendsofanimals.org
BLM halts gruesome wild mare sterilization research project under pressure from FoA
OREGON—The Bureau of Land Management has withdrawn its decision to conduct unnecessary, gruesome mare sterilization research on 225 wild mares, including at least 100 pregnant mares, imprisoned at the Wild Horse Corral Facility in Oregon after Friends of Animals filed a lawsuit on Aug. 3.
While the BLM’s decision was formally vacated by the Interior Board of Land Appeals this morning, FoA’s lawyers are working to make sure the withdrawal is legal and binding.
“This is good news for Oregon’s wild horses and we are bolstered by this victory,” said Jennifer Best, assistant director of Friends of Animals’ Wildlife Law Program. “The Bureau of Land Management is obligated to protect wild horses under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 and has absolutely no authority whatsoever to experiment on wild horses with new and risky surgeries. In fact, Congress has expressly prohibited the use of funds for activities that would kill wild horses as this experiment may have done. Furthermore, wild horses who have been ripped from the range and their families and remain imprisoned in holding facilities have lost their freedom, but they did not lose their status as wild horses under the WHBA, and the protection provided by such status.”
Despite extending its public comment period on this so-called research, and receiving thousands of comments in opposition of it, the BLM, in its eagerness to appease cattle and sheep ranchers who despise wild horses, had approved of the project.
What was so appalling about this case is BLM made the decision despite acknowledging in its 2016 Environmental Assessment that the three methods of sterilization—oviarectomy via colpotomy; tubal litigation and laser ablation—would likely cause death or necessary euthanasia and that the sterilization procedures would not stop unless the major complication rate for any gestational stage group exceeded 20 percent. In no uncertain terms, that meant that the BLM could destroy, or kill, up to 45 wild horses before stopping the experiments.
“Not only was the proposed project horrific, it would have been an unnecessary waste of American taxpayers’ money because there is not an excess of wild horses on public lands; there is an excess of cattle and sheep being allowed to graze on public lands,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals. “We are adamant cattle and sheep be removed from Herd Management Areas and that ecological zones, free from exploitation and management, be designated for America’s wild horses before they are managed to extinction by the BLM.”
Darien, Conn.-based Friends of Animals, an international animal protection organization founded in 1957, advocates for the rights of animals, free-living and domestic around the world. www.friendsofanimals.org