Photo of a veterinarian with a chain ecraseur being used during an ovariectomy.


The Bureau of Land Management is planning barbaric, archaic and dangerous sterilization experiments on captured wild mares at its Wild Horse Corral Facility in Hines, Oregon. These experiments have never before been performed on wild horses or, in the case of two of the three proposed procedures, in horses anywhere at all! The agency is accepting public comments on an Environmental Assessment (EA) and now is the time to voice our united and strong opposition to this outrageous proposal!

At least 100 mares -- 75 of whom will be pregnant -- will be subjected to "ovariectomy via colpotomy," a dangerous procedure in which a veterinarian makes an incision in the mare's vagina, inserts his arm into the vaginal cavity, manually locates the ovaries and rips them out using an "ecraseur," a rod-like device with a chain on the end. The painful procedure will subject mares to the risk of infection, hemorrhage and evisceration (intestines coming through the incision) and cause mares in the early to mid-stages of pregnancy to abort their fetuses.

In domestic mares, this procedure is not common, but when performed, requires a post-surgical 4-7 days stall confinement, during which the first 48 hours are spent in crossties to prevent the mare from lying down. No such restraint is possible in wild mares, and the BLM intends to turn them out to corrals after the surgery with open incisions and no restrictions on movement. This fact lead the National Research Council (NRC) to conclude that the fatality rate for the BLM's proposed experiment would be "higher than the one percent reported in the published literature," which is based on surgery performed in domestic mares.The NRC a stated that less invasive techniques would be preferable to this procedure in wild mares. 

Two less invasive experimental procedures are also proposed that would use endoscopes to achieve sterilization without removal of the ovaries. However, these procedures have never before been done in horses, domestic or wild, and appear to be infeasible for use in wild mares. 

Please take a stand against these dangerous and costly BLM wild horse experiments today. The BLM deliberately avoided public opposition by skipping the scoping stage of this process, so let's use the EA stage to show the agency just how many citizens and taxpayers oppose these dangerous and costly experiments on our wild mares. Take action below!

Public comments will be accepted on the EA through February 10, 2016. Comments can be emailed, mailed or faxed to the BLM Burns Office at the addresses below. Entire comments – including personal identifying information – may be published as part of the EA and Decision Record process.

Mail or deliver to:
Mare Sterilization Research Project Lead
(541) 573-4411 BLM Burns District Office    
28910 Highway 20 West
Hines, Oregon 97738
Email: blm_or_bu_mareresearchea@blm.gov
Fax: (541) 573-4411 -- Attention: Mare Sterilization Research Project Lead

Background Documents and Information

BLM Press Release on "Mare Sterlization Research"

"Mare Sterilization Research" Environmental Assessment (EA)

Expert Panel Report on Spaying Methods for Mares

BLM ePlanning website for "Mare Sterilization Research"

From the EA:

The three proposed methods include ovariectomy via colpotomy, and two minimally invasive methods, tubal ligation and hysteroscopically-guided laser ablation of the oviduct papilla. The proposed studies would be conducted under financial assistance agreements with Oregon State University (OSU), with OSU staff serving as the principal investigators of the research. The three studies combined would involve approximately 225 wild horse mares previously gathered and removed from BLM Herd Management Areas (HMA). All three studies would be conducted at Oregon’s Wild Horse Corral Facility in Hines, Oregon and would be planned to begin in February 2016 with an estimated completion date of September 2020.

Closed session with the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council (NRC) review committee convened to make recommendations to BLM on which population research proposals to pursue. It is unclear what criteria were given to the NRC to guide their recommendations on these research proposals -- from the EA page 4:

The BLM received 19 separate research proposals from universities in response to the RFA. In November 2014, BLM arranged for the NRC to have a committee of scientific experts provide an independent review, and provide BLM with indications about which of the proposals merited funding. On January 21, 2015, the NRC committee returned to BLM a report entitled “Review of Proposals to the Bureau of Land Management on Wild Horse and Burro Sterilization or Contraception.” This full report has been an internal BLM document in order to protect proprietary information of the proposal authors. BLM Oregon received from Paul Griffin, WH&B Program research coordinator, a summary of the report and the NRC committee’s review of the proposals being analyzed in this EA (Appendix B - NRC Review of Oregon Proposals, 2015). The committee recommended BLM move forward with awarding research funding, pending availability of funds, to 9 of the 19 research proposals reviewed. Four of the recommended research proposals were to investigate methods of permanent sterilization in wild horses, including two methods of minimally invasive surgical sterilization of female wild horses proposed by OSU. The two methods include tubal ligation and hysteroscopically-guided laser ablation. Both methods would occur at Oregon’s Wild Horse Corral Facility in Hines, Oregon and are analyzed in this EA.

Photo above by Mike Lorden on mares in holding at the Oregon Wild Horse Corrals.