By Larry Meyer, The Argus Observer
April 6, 2016
ONTARIO — The main discussion regarding wild horses at the Southeast Oregon Resource Advisory Council meeting was held Monday, but the issue dominated the public comment period Tuesday morning.
All of the people testifying by telephone opposed recommendations by the Southeast Oregon and John Day-Snake River resource advisory councils to control wild horse populations using permanent sterilization.
The advisory councils are appointed to advise the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service on management and policy issues. This week’s sessions were held at the Clarion Inn in Ontario.
Permanent sterilization options under consideration for wild horses could include spaying mares and vasectomies for gelding stallions.
Craig Downer, the author “The Wild Horse Conspiracy,” suggested the Resource Advisory Council is one-sided.
“I feel you are allied with the wild horse enemies,” he said.
Downer said he would like to see the Bureau of Land Management use such things as reserves, natural barriers or buffer zones; positive re-enforcement; and adverse conditioning to control populations of wild horses instead of the methods the advisory councils have proposed.
Another person, who identified herself as Mary Beth Devlin, said she wanted the BLM to raise the appropriate management level for the horses on the range, to allow wild horses to be managed in family bands, and to add more conditions to grazing permits.
Devlin said she also wanted to get horses out of holding pens and back onto public lands.
Mona Drake, of Bend, formerly of Burns, said the wild horses are not native to Oregon. She said they are feral horses, not wild.
“They need to be managed like other wildlife,” Drake said.
Deniz Bolbol, with the Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, said spaying mares is not supported by science and is not a standard procedure in horses.
“It’s very dangerous for horses,” she said, adding that it would change the nature of horses so they would no longer be wild.
“The vast majority of Americans want these horses,” she said.