More than 50 lawmakers on Thursday condemned a federal agency’s plans to gruesomely sterilize dozens of Utah’s wild mares.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced earlier this year a plan to surgically sterilize federally-protected wild mares in the Confusion Herd Management area in Utah.

The area spans more than 235,000 acres and is home to 551 wild horses- a herd size the BLM plans to whittle down to 70 wild horses within the next decade.

The chosen sterilization method- ovariectomy via colpotomy- involves a surgeon inserting a metal, foot-long, rod-like instrument into an incision in the mare’s vulva and using a chain to blindly sever the mare’s ovaries while she remains conscious. Risks include injuries, infections, hemorrhaging, evisceration, and death.

The BLM received approval for its plan in October and plans to start gathering horses in late November.  

But 58 lawmakers in both the House and Senate, led by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Congressperson Dina Titus (D-NV, told Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt in a Nov. 19 letter that they want nothing to do with the plan: noting ovariectomies via colpotomy posed a “significant welfare risk” for wild horses.

“This attempt to use taxpayer dollars to carry out cruel and inhumane procedures on wild horses must not move forward,” said Titus. “I will always fight to protect these majestic animals that have become symbols of the American West.”

The lawmakers blocked similar surgical experiments on wild horses in Oregon in 2019. Their letter this week  emphasized that ovariectomy via colpotomy remains a highly controversial, unsafe, and unwelcome approach – with national polls showing nearly 80% of the American public opposes the sterilizations.

During the BLM’s public comment period, five animal welfare nonprofits and thousands of members of the public deplored using ovariectomies via colpotomy, as opposed to safer, more humane, and already-established options like the Porcine Zona Pellucida vaccine.

“The American public, law makers, veterinarians, and other experts have all been very clear in their opposition to the BLM pursuing this reckless approach to wild horse management,” said Joanna Grossman, the equine program manager for the Animal Welfare Institute.

An act of Congress or the court system could stop the brutal sterilizations. Join Lady Freethinker in asking lawmakers to use their power to protect wild mares from the grave danger of these surgical sterilizations.

Wild horses in Oregon