By Yesenia Robles, Denver Post
September 9, 2016
An earlier plan this summer from the Bureau of Land Management to surgically sterilize wild horses in Oregon will not happen.
According to a Friday ruling from the Interior Board of Land Appeals, “BLM wants to rescind the decision at issue in this appeal because it no longer wishes to implement it.”
Front Range Equine Rescue, a nonprofit that started in Colorado and advocates for wild horses, opposed the idea and filed a lawsuit to have it stopped.
“We are relieved that the BLM has withdrawn its decision, both for the targeted 225 horses and for the future of wild horse management,” Hilary Wood, president of the nonprofit, said Friday in a released statement. “FRER remains committed to ensuring the BLM uses humane and reasonable efforts to protect the herds while considering all interests in the process.”
The nonprofit group had filed a lawsuit six weeks ago asking the courts to intervene to stop the sterilization study, which they called untested and dangerous.
Bureau officials released a statement Friday saying their decision was related to litigation.
“This decision, though not made lightly, is in response to litigation that could have put the wild horses, BLM staff and our research partners at risk by requiring unnecessary persons or equipment be placed within the small confines of the space where the procedures would take place,” the bureau said in its statement. “It is important that BLM staff and our research partners are focused on the welfare of the animals without additional distraction, disruption or safety concerns.”
Another lawsuit filed by The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and The Cloud Foundation focused on asking the courts to allow the organizations to observe and document the procedures.
The BLM has stated that they need to improve efficiency of population control methods. When they announced the sterilization plans, they estimated that the population of wild horses and burros on public lands is “more than double what the agency has determined is healthy for the animals and the rangeland resources.”
Also Friday, the bureau’s Oregon office posted a statement on its Facebook page that details a separate plan to capture 150 wild horses starting Thursday on the Cold Springs Herd Management Area. The goal is to remove 100 and apply existing fertility control vaccines to approximately 25 mares that will be returned to the management area.
Horse removals, called gatherings, are occasionally used as a way to control horse populations. They are not regularly scheduled and it is unclear if the decision to halt the sterilization study triggered the plan for the latest gathering.
Gathered horses will be transported to the Oregon Adoption facility near Burns/Hines, Ore., and will be available for adoption later in the year, according the bureau’s statement.