Plaintiffs Claim Planned Wild Horse Sterilization is Inhumane

American Wild Horse Campaign and Robert Hammer, a data analyst and wildlife photographer specializing in horses, filed a complaint in the District of Columbia on Thursday asking for injunctive and declaratory relief from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Department of the Interior’s efforts to sterilize wild horses. 

Reportedly, the Wild Horse Act allows the government agencies to round up wild horses in Utah’s Confusion Herd Management Area (HMA) and “permanently sterilize mares through ovariectomy via colpotomy.” The plaintiffs argued that this method is inhumane and outdated. It involves using a chain to seer organs inside a female horse and the BLM reportedly previously analyzed the procedure and decided to conduct experiments on its effects on horses. 

The complaint purported that “despite the fact that BLM’s own governing Resource Management Plan does not authorize the agency to use permanent sterilization to manage the wild horse population in this HMA … the agency nonetheless elected to fundamentally alter its longstanding practice of managing reproducing, self-sustaining wild horse populations in the HMA, and instead to permanently sterilize wild horses through an inhumane, obsolete, and highly controversial surgical procedure. 

Further, the plaintiffs claimed that the defendants did not make the decisions with the proper public input, which should have been stressed due to the controversy around the procedure and the unknown effects it could have on individual horses and herds. The complaint says this action violated the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act, the Wild Horse Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act. 

The court’s decision in this case, according to the plaintiffs, will have nationwide implications because allowing the practice to occur or determining that it should not be allowed could set a precedent for practices in other wild horse herds across the nation. 

The plaintiffs, represented by Eubanks & Associates, asked the court to stop the defendants from implementing the planned surgical sterilization and set aside BLM’s decision record, environmental assessment, and determination that this action would not have a significant impact.