By Pat Caldwell
Malheur Enterprise


BURNS – The Bureau of Land Management has scuttled its controversial experimental program to spay wild horses in Oregon.


The federal agency announced last Friday it would not move ahead with the project that was to begin at the agency’s wild horse facility near Hines.


The decision came after several conservation groups filed a lawsuit to stop the program.


“The Bureau of Land Management has decided not to move ahead at this time with the proposed research efforts at the Hines corrals due to complications from litigation,” the BLM said in its statement.


The Cloud Foundation and the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign filed a lawsuit in August in an effort to require independent observers be on hand when the program begins. Previously, the Front- Range Equine Rescue and Friends of Animals, filed litigation to stop the entire program. At issue were the procedures the BLM proposed to use to spay about 180 horses. One method, called ovariectomy via colpotomy, was particularly odious for some conservation groups. That method involves cutting and then removing the ovaries of a mare. The other two procedures involved endoscopes and other medical tools to secure a mare’s fallopian tubes to restrict the passage of eggs.


The BLM asserted that the procedures would be safe, but the horse advocate groups termed them inhumane. The project was proposed to find an effective way to manage the growing number of wild horses on the range. The agency estimates there are about 67,000 wild horses on public lands in 10 western states. According to the agency that’s more than double the number of wild horses and burros the rangeland can support. Suzanne Roy, the executive director of the American Wild Horse Preservation group called the decision by the BLM a clear triumph.


“It is a big victory. We are pleased they dropped it. Now we have to guard against them coming back in a year to try the same thing,” Roy said.