Equine veterinarians call the “ovariectomy” procedure that BLM is proposing to conduct on captive wild mares in Oregon  “barbaric,” “archaic” and “unconscionable.” The procedure — in which a veterinarian blindly sticks his/her hand and arm into a horse’s abdomen through an incision in the vaginal wall, then manually twists and severs the ovaries – subjects wild horses to risk of death from bleeding, infection, or evisceration (intestines protruding through the incision).

Sterilizing wild horses will destroy production of the reproductive hormones that drive natural behaviors. These natural behaviors distinguish wild horses from domestic horses, are central to their complex social dynamics and help them survive in their rugged high desert homes.

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In 2013, the National Research Council (NRC) reported that surgical sterilization on wild horses and burros would result in a loss of behaviors necessary for maintenance of social organization, band integrity, and expression of a natural behavior repertoire.

At least 75 percent of the mares that BLM intends to use in the ovariectomy experiments will be pregnant, and many of them will abort their unborn foals.

Removal of the ovaries will cause pregnancy loss in the early to mid-stages, and the trauma of capture, confinement in a hydraulic squeeze chute, and the painful procedure itself will threaten pregnancy at all stages. In addition, pregnant mares are at a higher risk of hemorrhage when the ovaries are severed and removed.

In domestic mares, the proposed procedure is not common, but when performed, requires a post-surgical seven-day stall confinement, during which the first 48 hours are spent in cross-ties to prevent the mare from lying down. Careful postoperative monitoring, antibiotics and pain relief are also necessary.

Wild mares cannot be given necessary post-operative care. The BLM intends to turn them out to corrals after the surgery with open incisions, no restrictions on movement, no close monitoring for hemorrhage or evisceration and no post-surgical pain relief or antibiotic treatment.

It is unconscionable that the BLM is proceeding with these draconian experiments that endanger the lives of the un-consenting equine subjects and their unborn foals, particularly when a proven non-invasive and safe fertility control method exists in the readily available PZP birth control vaccine.

Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell who oversees the BLM has remained silent though more than 20,000 citizens, equine veterinarians and congressmen have voiced their opposition to these barbaric procedures.

We cannot let our tax dollars go to funding these surgeries. Please take action to today and ask the Secretary of Interior to #StopThemSally.

Image source:  /Shutterstock

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