House Committee Passes Devastating Same-Sex/Sterilization Amendment

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kayah Swanson, Deputy Director


COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - The House Appropriations Committee has passed an amendment authorizing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to create non-reproducing wild horse and burro herds using dangerous and inhumane surgical sterilization techniques. The amendment was introduced by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT). 

The BLM is advocating the use of a procedure called “ovariectomy via colpotomy," which rips the ovaries out of mares and jennies, and has shown to be extremely dangerous even in sterile conditions. The procedure has a high complication rate and causes behavioral changes and loss in bone density, according to expert equine veterinarians. 

“In private practice, colpotomy is considered an inferior procedure with likelihood of post-surgical infections and complications (i.e., colic) especially in unsterile conditions,” said Dr. Don Moore, Equine Veterinarian. “Post-operative care usually lasts several days, often weeks. In most cases, mares are monitored in box stalls or cross ties, which cannot be accomplished with wild mares.”

“This is a barbaric procedure. Most veterinarians won’t even perform it in a sterile environment,” said Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation. “Aside from that, this amendment also allows for the creation of single-sex or non-reproducing herds, which is something the courts have ruled against.”

The BLM previously proposed the creation of a non-reproducing herd in the Saylor Creek Herd Management Area in Idaho. After a lawsuit was filed by plaintiffs including The Cloud Foundation, a District Court Judge struck down the BLM’s decision to manage herds in that way, citing a lack of effort on BLM’s part to understand the long-term effects of the management strategy they were proposing:

“… preventing births and reproductive capacity of the horses alters wild horse behaviors and the social structure of the herd. …. The NAS Report concluded that ‘absence of young horses itself would alter the age structure of the population and could thereby affect harem dynamics.’ …. Accordingly, the Court concludes the Defendants have violated NEPA by failing to take a hard look at these important aspects of its decision and failing to disclose and analyze the NAS Report in the FEIS.”
Case No. 1:16-cv-00001-EJL. United States District Court for the District of Idaho, 2017. Pg. 21-23.

“This amendment was passed because lawmakers believe the fiction created by Rep. Stewart that wild horses are starving on the range and overpopulated, a story echoed in BLM’s recently proposed management plan,” Kathrens said.

Numerous organizations have responded to BLM’s plan in a unified response document, and more than 100 organizations have joined together in a unified statement containing humane and cost-effective management recommendations.

“Wild horses are not starving on the range, and they are far outnumbered by privately owned livestock that graze our public lands at the expense of the American taxpayer,” Kathrens said. “More than 80 percent of Americans want our wild horses and burros to be treated humanely, and we will not stay quiet about this most recent attempt to cruelly manage these federally protected species.”


The Cloud Foundation is a nonprofit based in Colorado Springs, Colorado dedicated to the preservation and protection of wild horses and burros on our public lands.

Kayah Swanson