By Suzanne Roy, Special to the Huffington Post
August 22, 2016
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees freedom of the press and the right to conduct news-gathering activities that are fundamental to maintaining transparency and accountability of government operations. Unfortunately, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is trampling these First Amendment rights and galloping ahead with the conduct – behind closed doors - of highly controversial and invasive surgical sterilization experiments on 200 captured wild horses at its corrals in Hines, Oregon. So last week, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and the Cloud FoundationVideo filed a federal lawsuitaimed at upholding the First Amendment right to observe the highly objectionable procedures.
The BLM says it is conducting these objectionable experiments in part to determine whether the procedures are “social acceptable” as a management tool for federally-protected wild horses. Yet the agency has consistently denied AWHPC requests to bear witness to and document the surgical sterilizations. How can the agency answer this question if the public is not allowed to see what the procedure entails? If only one side of the equation is presented (i.e. BLM’s “spin”), how can “socially acceptable” be justly determined?
Here’s why the BLM wants to keep the barn door closed to these inhumane and risky experiments:
In the most objectionable procedure – “ovariectomy via colpotomy” – a livestock veterinarian (not an equine veterinary surgeon) will insert his hand and arm into the mares’ abdominal cavities through their vaginas. He will manually and blindly locate their ovaries and twist and sever them using a metal rod with a chain on the end.Video of this veterinarian conducting this surgery on burros shows animals clearly feeling pain as their ovaries are literally yanked out of them while they are restrained in a chute.
Ovariectomy is risky and painful procedure and far different than “spaying” domestic dogs and cats. In wild horses, it can cause serious complications ― including bleeding to death or dying from evisceration - the painful and deadly protrusion of intestines through the surgical incision in their vaginal walls. The majority of the mares used as experimental subjects by BLM will be pregnant, and the procedure will also cause many of them to abort their unborn foals.
The National Academy of Sciences itself strongly recommended AGAINST the procedure stating, “The possibility that ovariectomy may be followed by prolonged bleeding or peritoneal infection makes it inadvisable for field application.”
The procedure will also cause profound behavioral changes in wild mares, making it an inappropriate tool for management of wild herds. One veterinarian who specializes in equine reproductive medicine stated that release of ovariectomized mares into the wild is a “recipe for social chaos on the range.”
The BLM’s attempt to hide these experiments from the public is unacceptable and the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and the Cloud Foundation are not standing for it.