For immediate release

Public outraged at government decision to sterilize free-roaming wild horses in Wyoming Roundups would put sterile herd back on range to die out

WASHINGTON (June 16, 2011) – The Cloud Foundation opposes the BLM’s “Record of Decision” released this Tuesday to wipe out two wild horse herds in southern Wyoming. It includes a massive round up and removal of most horses in the area, but it also implements the spaying of mares and the gelding of all stallions to be returned to the White Mountain and Little Colorado herd management areas.

“It’s a shocking and disgraceful decision,” states Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation, a non-profit wild horse advocacy group, “It is the most invasive, most dangerous, and the most permanently destructive decision they could have made. If this does not clearly demonstrate the BLM agenda of managing America’s wild horses to extinction, I don’t know what does.”

The American public is upset to learn about BLM’s new decision to now roundup close to 1,000 native wild horses and while only releasing 320 sterilized animals back onto their legally designated range of more than 1 million acres. Meanwhile thousands of head of privately owned livestock continue to graze on the same public land. The BLM decision would make these two wild horse herds unable to reproduce. Any hope for their continuation as a herd would require the expensive and invasive techniques of capturing and transporting wild horses from other herds and releasing them into the White Mountain and Little Colorado areas.

Sterilizing wild horses in the field is dangerous and has only been tested rarely. The experimental surgical procedure was tested on wild mares in Nevada's Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge with a 10% mortality rate, and recovery taking at least a month.

“BLM’s approval to spay wild mares living on public land lacks any humane consideration for the animal,” states Donald Moore, DVM, of Fruita, Colorado. “This is a very invasive procedure and most veterinarians are reluctant, at best, to even recommend it.” Dr. Moore further questions the ability of the BLM to conduct such a dangerous endeavor, “It is not feasible to perform this surgery in the field. Even if this ill-advised surgery were to be performed BLM is not equipped to house and handle the mares in a manner that meets an acceptable level of care required for their recovery.”

Even BLM-lead vet, Dr. Al Kane USDA-APHIS, expressed his concerns over this sort of protocol, "It's a lot more complicated and the potential for complications and side effects is much greater," he reported to the BLM Advisory Board at their meeting in Phoenix in March. "And a lot of it has to do with the practicality of doing it on a large scale, particularly in the field. The potential effects on herd behavior or individual mare behavior are an issue... It's never been done in wild horses on a large scale."

Concerns run high regarding this surprising BLM decision and the timing of the roundup, scheduled to begin in July when most foals are still quite small.

“At the end of May I saw very few foals and many heavily pregnant mares,” says Carol Walker, equine photographer and wild horse advocate, who just recently visited the herd, “There is no possible way the BLM can convince me that there will not still be many heavily pregnant mares and many 1-month old or younger foals at the time of the roundup.”

“Not just the timing of this action, but the drastic nature of surgical sterilization makes this decision particularly abhorrent, “ says Kathrens. “Congress should be outraged at the blatant mockery BLM is making of the Wild Horse and Burro Act. When will they step in to rescue these animals from a rogue agency bent on destroying them?”

“The American public is outraged at BLM's choice to sterilize America’s living legends despite other sustainable alternatives to manage healthy herds," explains Anne Novak, spokeswoman for The Cloud Foundation. "Is Congress going to allow this disgrace to occur? We did not elect senators and representatives to allow this sort of animal cruelty to take place in our name."