Representatives Steve Cohen (TN-09), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Ted Yoho (R-FL), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Chris Collins (R-NY) pen letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue asking him “to do everything possible to vigorously enforce the Horse Protection Act” as the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration begins in Shelbyville, Tennessee.
“We encourage the USDA to ensure a strong and consistent enforcement presence at this year’s Celebration, and to utilize the full range of both objective and subjective inspection protocols developed by the department.” See the full text of the letter here.
The five letter signers were the lead sponsors of the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R.693, that passed the House last month by a vote of 333 to 96. The bill would stop the intentional injury to horses.
The 81st annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration began today and runs through August 31.
FORT MCDERMITT SHOSHONE PAIUTE TRIBE AND USDA FOREST SERVICE TO BEGIN 2ND COOPERATIVE DOMESTIC HORSE REMOVAL
The Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest will begin to remove tribal members’ privately-owned horses from the Santa Rose Ranger District and return them to their rightful owners. This is the second in a series of operations and could take up to eight days with at least 800 horses expected to be removed.
“Over the past 30 years, the number of unauthorized tribally-owned horses grazing on tribal and public lands increased to more than 2,500 horses,” said Santa Rosa District Ranger Joe Garrotto. “These horses are competing for forage with native wildlife and authorized livestock, overgrazing, harming ecosystems, and damaging fences and stock-watering facilities.”
Tribal Chairman Tildon Smart agrees with the Forest Service about these horses being a major concern. “They are causing safety issues for people driving on public and tribal lands and on U.S. Route 95,” Chairman Smart said. “They are also damaging important tribal natural and cultural resources.”
The removal operations will take place about 75 miles north of Winnemucca, Nevada, on the northern portion of the Santa Rosa Ranger District and adjacent tribal lands. The horses being removed from federally-managed public lands are tribally-owned domestic horses, and are not protected under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. Safeguards have been built into the removal operations plan to ensure that wild horses from the Bureau of Land Management’s Little Owyhee Herd Management Area are not impacted. No wild horses were gathered in a previous removal efforts.
“The Forest Service will retain control of gathered horses until they are delivered to the tribal holding facility, where they will be inspected by a team of Tribal and Nevada State Brand Inspectors and Forest Service Wild Horse Specialists,” said Garrotto. “Forest Service personnel will also be on hand to record the ownership of horses to help with future management.”
Chairman Smart explained that once the horses are removed from federally-managed public lands, tribal members will decide whether to sell or keep their horses and constrain them from further unauthorized grazing. The Tribe is responsible for returning the horses to their owners or arrangement of sale.
“With the help of the Forest Service, we were able to remove more than 500 horses off National Forest System land in December 2018,” added Chairman Smart. “After a recent helicopter survey, we estimate that there are still around 2,000 tribal horses that need to be removed.”
Public viewing is extremely limited since most of the activities will occur on tribal lands. There will be opportunities to view limited helicopter operations on National Forest System (NFS) lands on or around Aug. 7, 2019 provided that it does not jeopardize the safety of the animals, staff or observers, and that it does not disrupt removal operations. There will be no public access to tribal lands
Please contact Public Affairs Staff Officer Erica Hupp at 775-771-4777 prior to the desired viewing date to be added to the attendee list and to receive specific instructions on meeting locations and times. The Forest Service will escort the public to the observation site, which will be difficult to access without a high-clearance four wheel drive vehicle.
The Music City of Tennessee takes a stand against horse soring. On August 6, 2019, the Nashville Metro Council voted unanimously to adopt Resolution RS2019-1868 in support of The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R.693 / S.1007.
Led by Councilwoman Kathleen Murphy, the Resolution also urges both U.S. Senators from Tennessee, Lamar Alexander and Marsha Blackburn, to cosponsor the bill and support its passage into federal law.
URGING The MEMBERS OF THE Tennessee Senatorial DELEGATION TO COSPONSOR AND PRESS FOR PASSAGE OF THE PREVENT ALL SORING TACTICS (PAST) ACT, AND ENCOURAGE THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE TO FINALIZE ITS PROPOSED HORSE PROTECTION ACT RULE IN ITS CURRENT FORM.
The Council will commence this October. A proposal to ban the exhibiting of Big Lick Tennessee Walking Horses, Spotted Saddle Horses and Racking Horses that are fitted with the Big Lick “action devices” will be discussed.
It's a historic day for horse protection in The United States! The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act by a vote of 333 to 96.
The bill seeks to strengthen the Horse Protection Act and end the torturous practice of soring Tennessee Walking, Racking, and Spotted Saddle Horses.
Soring is an egregious form of animal abuse and has plagued the equine world for six decades. All for the sake of winning a blue ribbon, soring is the intentional infliction of pain to horses' front limbs by applying caustic chemicals such as mustard oil and kerosene, or inserting sharp objects into the horses' hooves to create an exaggerated gait known as the “Big Lick".
Once passed into federal law, the PAST Act would ban the use of painful large stacked shoes and ankle chains and would also eliminate the existing system of self-regulation by the industry and toughen penalties for violators of the Horse Protection Act.
The PAST Act has been blocked for years by a handful of well-placed lawmakers, but a new House rule triggering consideration of any measure that attracts 290 or more cosponsors brought the issue to the floor. The PAST garnered 307 cosponsors, and was led by U.S. Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Ted Yoho (R-FL), co-chairs of the Congressional Veterinary Medicine Caucus, along with Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Ron Estes (R-KS), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Chris Collins (R-NY).
Click here to find out if your U.S. Representative voted YES on The PAST Act, H.R.693.
On July 24, 2019, the U.S. House held a debate on The PAST Act (H.R.693). Leading the charge was Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL).
This victory is a monumental step forward in getting The PAST Act signed into law. We now need the U.S. Senate to also pass its version, S.1007. Please raise your voice for the horses today!
A majority of Canadians say they have a problem with the slaughter of Canadian horses for human consumption and are uncomfortable or somewhat uncomfortable with the export of horse meat from Canada for human consumption. Over two thirds of Canadians say they would most support stopping the slaughtering of horses in Canada for human consumption rather than continue.
The poll was conducted by Nanos Research for the Parliamentary Group, June 2019
A majority of Canadians have a problem with the slaughter of Canadian horses for
Nearly seven in ten Canadians say they would most support stopping the slaughtering of horses in Canada for human consumption rather than continue the policy – Asked which path they would support most for Canada, a majority of Canadians (69%) say they would support Canada stopping the slaughtering of horses in Canada for human consumption rather than continuing it, while just under two in ten (17%) say they would support Canada continuing the policy of slaughtering horses for human consumption. Fourteen per cent are unsure. Residents of Ontario (74%), the Atlantic region (73%) and British Columbia (72%) were more likely to say they would support Canada stopping the slaughtering of horses in Canada for human consumption rather than continuing to allow it, while Quebec residents (62%) were less likely to say so. Canadians that say they would consider voting for the NDP were more likely to say they would support Canada stopping the slaughtering of horses in Canada for human consumption (75%) than those who said they would not consider voting for the NDP (64%).
Just over two thirds of Canadians say they are uncomfortable or somewhat uncomfortable with the export of horse meat from Canada for human consumption
Just over two in three Canadians say they are uncomfortable (51%) or somewhat uncomfortable (17%) with the export of horse meat from Canada for human consumption, while just under one in four say they are comfortable (11%) or somewhat comfortable (12%) with this. Nine per cent are unsure. Women were more likely to say they feel uncomfortable (65%) with the export of horse meat from Canada for human consumption compared to men (36%). Residents of the Atlantic region (59%) were more likely to report being uncomfortable while residents of Quebec (45%) and the Prairies (46%) were less likely to report being uncomfortable.
Nearly seven in ten Canadians say they would most support stopping the slaughtering
of horses in Canada for human consumption rather than continue the policy
Asked which path they would support most for Canada, a majority of Canadians (69%) say they would support Canada stopping the slaughtering of horses in Canada for human consumption rather than continuing it, while just under two in ten (17%) say they would support Canada continuing the policy of slaughtering horses for human consumption. Fourteen per cent are unsure. Residents of Ontario (74%), the Atlantic region (73%) and British Columbia (72%) were more likely to say they would support Canada stopping the slaughtering of horses in Canada for human consumption rather than continuing to allow it, while Quebec residents (62%) were less likely to say so. Canadians that say they would consider voting for the NDP were more likely to say they would support Canada stopping the slaughtering of horses in Canada for human consumption (75%) than those who said they would not consider voting for the NDP (64%).
Canadians are over four times more likely to say they would have a more positive impression rather than a more negative impression of a politician that supported a ban
in Canada on the slaughter of horses for human consumption
Asked what kind of impact it would have on their impression of a politician if that politician supported a ban in Canada on the slaughter of horses for human consumption, over one in two (52%) say they would have a more positive impression of that politician, while just under one in four (23%) say it would have no impact , and over one in ten (11%) say they would have a more negative impression of that politician. Thirteen per cent are unsure. Women (60%) were more likely to say they would have a more positive impression of that politician than men (44%). Canadians that say they would consider voting for the Liberals were more likely to say they would have a more positive impression of that politician (59%) than those who said they would not consider voting for the Liberals (47%). Canadians that say they would consider voting for the NDP were more likely to say they would have a more positive impression of that politician (62%) than those who said they would not consider voting for the NDP (45%).
Views on the slaughter of horses
QUESTION: Government statistics show that in 2016 more than 54,000 horses were slaughtered in Canada for human consumption or shipped out of the country for the same purpose. Which of the following two viewpoints more closely reflects your own regarding the slaughter of Canadian horses for meat?
Views on the slaughter of horses exported for human consumption
QUESTION: The business of slaughtering horses for human consumption also includes exporting the meat to other countries. Are you comfortable, somewhat comfortable, somewhat uncomfortable or uncomfortable with the export of horse meat from Canada for human consumption?
Direction for policies on the slaughter of horses
QUESTION: As you may know, some countries slaughter horses for human consumption and other countries, such as the United States, do not allow the slaughter of horses for human consumption. Thinking of Canada which of the following paths forward would you support most?
Impression of politician that would support a ban on the slaughter of horse for human consumption
QUESTION: If a politician supported a ban in Canada on the slaughter of horses for human consumption, would you have a more positive impression of that politician, a more negative impression of that politician or would it have no impact on your impression of that politician?
Click here to read the full results of the poll.
Thousands of American horses are live-exported to Canada each year just to be slaughtered for human consumption. The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act would make this illegal.
Help Pass The SAFE Act by contacting your U.S. legislators >>
A Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee will hold an oversight hearing this week to discuss strategies to reduce growing wild horse and burro herds.
Tomorrow's Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining hearing will "examine long-term management options for the Bureau of Land Management's Wild Horse and Burro Program," according to summary written by GOP staffers.
The hearing comes in advance of a much-anticipated report BLM is expected to submit to Congress next month detailing specific strategies and funding estimates for reducing the number of wild horses and burros.
What exactly BLM plans to include in the report is unclear. But Steve Tryon, BLM's deputy assistant director for resources and planning, is scheduled to testify at tomorrow's hearing and will almost certainly be grilled about the upcoming report.
One thing the report will not include is a standing Trump administration request for Congress to lift language in appropriations bills that forbids BLM from using euthanasia on healthy horses and burros that cannot be adopted.
Casey Hammond, the Interior Department's principal deputy assistant secretary for land and minerals management who is temporarily overseeing BLM, announced last week at a national wild horse advisory panel meeting that euthanasia is "not an option that's being discussed in the bureau or the department".
How that new Trump administration position sits with conservative Republicans, like subcommittee Chairman Mike Lee of Utah, remains to be seen. But the topic of euthanasia as a option for culling herd sizes is likely to be a major topic of debate at the hearing.
Among those scheduled to testify is Ethan Lane, chairman of the National Horse and Burro Rangeland Management Coalition, which advocates for downsizing herds on public lands to sustainable levels.
Lane is also senior executive director of the Public Lands Council and of federal lands for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Both groups joined the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and others in devising a macabre plan submitted to congressional appropriators in April to reduce growing herd sizes without resorting to euthanasia or unrestricted sales (The Path Forward, 10 Years to AML proposal).
Nancy Perry, ASPCA's senior vice president of government affairs, is also scheduled to testify.
The hearing comes as federal land managers say there are at least 88,000 wild horses and burros roaming 27 million acres of herd management areas — more than three times the appropriate management level of 26,690 animals deemed sustainable for natural resources and the wildlife that live on the rangelands.
The 88,000 wild horses "is very, very far away from healthy herds," Hammond told the wild horse advisory board last week.
BLM has ramped up organized roundups of wild horses and burros, as well as efforts to get these animals adopted. But the bureau estimates that it costs about $50 million a year — close to 70% of the Wild Horse and Burro Program annual budget — to care for the animals held in off-range holding corrals and pens.
"We often forget about that number," Hammond said, referring to those costs.
"That's what's eating up a significant portion of the budget that Congress has given us just to take care of the [animals] we've taken off the range [in order] to have a healthy range that we don't have," he said. "So the challenges are significant."
Schedule: The hearing is Tuesday, July 16, at 2:30 p.m. in 366 Dirksen.
Source: E&E News
Anyone with a passing interest in Thoroughbred racing or animal welfare is very familiar with the breakdown of horses at Santa Anita Park during their winter/spring meeting.
This meet opened on December 26 and finished on June 23. There were a total of 30 breakdowns, including races and workouts. On March 14, Belinda Stronach, President and Chairman of the Stronach Group, presented an open letter on the future of Thoroughbred racing in California. Some of the important safety initiatives included:
There were two additional important proposed initiatives that are significant but do not relate directly to breakdowns. One is a restriction on the use of Lasix. Starting in 2020, no 2-year-old will be able to run on Lasix, and, in 2021, all Santa Anita stakes races will be Lasix-free. Secondly, the Stronach Group is proposing both structural changes in the composition of the whip and a dramatic reduction in how it can be used by the jockey. These two initiatives will have to go through the rule-making process, including consultation with horsemen, before they can be voted on by the California Horseracing Board.
Hollendorfer facts are hard to digest
On June 22, a horse of Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer broke down on the Santa Anita training track and had to be euthanized. Unfortunately, this was the fourth Hollendorfer horse to break down, racing or training, during the meet, and he also had two breakdowns during the Golden Gate meet, which ended on June 2 and will re-open on August 15.
Later on June 22, Hollendorfer was told by the Stronach Group he would no longer be allowed to race or train at Santa Anita and that the four horses that he had entered on the final two days of Santa Anita were scratched.
The further facts are hard for me to digest, so I imagine how Hollendorfer must feel. He was elected to the National Racing Hall of Fame in 2011, lifetime he has won 7,617 races from a total of 33,519 entered, and until June 22 he had over 100 horses in training in California. Other than being ruled off by the Stronach Group, he does not appear to have heard any further details of why he was suspended.
Most racing jurisdictions have one organization for owners and trainers. However, in California the owners are represented by the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) and the trainers by their own organization, the California Thoroughbred Trainers (CTT). It is truly remarkable that, as of right now, the CTT has not come forward with a strong statement of support for Hollendorfer, who remains a licensee in good standing with the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB).
An industry that has lost its soul
In sum, the industry is not full of change agents seeking new challenges and changing the business. However, as I tried to outline above, we are desperate to change in many areas. We need to identify and eliminate the cheaters in the game. We also need to protect the interests of our owners, breeders and employees to assure them that we run an honest business that works in the interests of all participants.
If we try to stand still with existing policies and business practices, we are only going to go backwards. I wrote what I thought was a very important article back on April 2. It was primarily stimulated by the most powerful case for reform in U.S. Thoroughbred racing and breeding that I have ever read: Vision 2025. If you are invested or interested in the U.S. Thoroughbred industry, you have to read this nine-page report.
I truly believe we are an industry that has lost its soul and its determination. We so desperately need the Horse Racing Integrity Act of 2019 and the important changes in the business model that the legislation requires. As I have tried to outline above, our current collection of industry organizations and regulatory bodies are simply going to bring the industry down. Please, no more ‘go along to get along’.
Source: Charles Hayward for TRC
The federal government is trying to quash a lawsuit launched by animal welfare advocates who want to end the export of Canadian horses for slaughter and human consumption in Japan and South Korea.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is defending its equine transportation and enforcement policies against claims that it's failing to meet legal obligations to ensure humane and safe shipments. In its June 17 court filing, the CFIA also said that revised regulations set to kick in next year make the case "moot."
The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC), the group behind the legal challenge, insists the new rules slated for February 2020 could put horses on long-haul overseas flights to Asia at even greater risk. CHDC lawyer Rebeka Breder said the conditions the horses experience during transport cause distress and danger. Large, flighty animals are often crammed together without the adequate headroom required by law, the group claims.
"They're exhibiting signs of stress. There have also been injuries, there have been deaths over the last several years," Breder told CBC News. "Generally speaking, the shipments are not safe for horses. We know that for a fact."
Canada exports thousands of horses each year to Japan, a market where some consumers enjoy the meat as a raw delicacy. In 2018, Canada also began shipping live horses to South Korea. In its recent court filing, CFIA said the lawsuit is based on "cultural norms" and CHDC's interpretation of what is, and is not, an appropriate food animal.
"However, the inevitable reality is that the CFIA's role, on the facts of this case, is to determine whether the horses are healthy for export and are being safely transported," the filing said. "There is no requirement on the CFIA to obtain a particular enforcement result and it is well recognized that perfection in enforcement can never be more than an unattainable goal."
The rules for shipping horses:
The existing Health of Animals Regulations say larger horses must be segregated from each other and set minimum requirements for headroom clearance. The CHDC lawsuit said the CFIA is not always in compliance with the regulations. New 2020 rules will eliminate the segregation requirement, with a stated goal of giving shippers greater flexibility so that compatible horses can travel together with less anxiety. Maureen Harper, a retired veterinarian who worked for CFIA for 30 years, said "compatibility" is difficult for an inspector to assess at the airport.
Larger, stronger horses should be segregated to avoid injuries from kicking, biting, toppling or trampling, she said. Horses also need space to maintain their balance in transit, especially during take-off or landing. Harper said the public knows little about Canada's horse export and slaughter industry and she believes most Canadians see horses as companions like dogs and cats — not as food.
"Everybody that I speak to, they're just totally horrified when I tell them what's happening and I think the CFIA has a huge role to play here and unfortunately, in my view, they've dropped the ball," she said.
Horse welfare 'top priority':
Eliot Bouvry of Alberta-based Bouvry Exports — which produces horse meat for export, among other products — said the welfare of horses and other livestock is a "top priority" for his company and the CFIA. Horses are inspected by CFIA vets at the airport before departure for cuts, bruises, limps or sickness. Animals are transported on single-deck trailers that have been sanitized and layered with fresh shavings according to Canada's livestock transport regulations, he said.
"Other species/livestock are transported long distances for slaughter and it's not a topic of discussion," he said in a statement to CBC News. "Although activists keep the industry accountable, we do not consider it truthful that it is an animal welfare issue. For (some) people it is an ethical problem, which is another debate."
Business vs. animal welfare?:
Breder accuses the CFIA is putting business interests ahead of animal welfare. "There's a lot of money at stake, and it's quite clear to the CHDC that what is really at issue here are industry interests, not the interest and the welfare of animals and the way that they're transported," she said. "It is simply the bottom line to make as much profit as possible."
The CFIA rejects the claim that industry sales are driving policy and enforcement, and maintains that all animals, including horses, are "properly certified, fit to travel and transported humanely in a way that does not cause injury or undue suffering." The agency said new rules will strengthen safety regulations for horse transport.
Online petition calls on Minister MacAulay to stop the exporting of live horses for slaughter "The updated regulations establish clear and science-informed requirements and thus better reflect the needs of animals and improve overall animal welfare in Canada," CFIA said in a statement.
Last year, 3,871 horses worth $26.5 million were shipped to Japan. Exports were fewer in number than during the previous year, but had a significantly higher value. Canada also ships fresh, chilled and frozen horse meat to Japan worth about $29 million annually, and millions of dollars more to European countries, including France and Switzerland.
While it's considered a food taboo in most parts of North America, horse meat is sold and served in some grocery stores and restaurants in Canada.
Source: CBC News
Thousands of American horses are live-exported to Canada each year just to be slaughtered for human consumption. The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act would make this illegal.
U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) today introduced bipartisan legislation to permanently prohibit and make it a federal crime to slaughter horses for human consumption in the United States. The legislation also bans any related interstate or foreign commercial activity, such as the export of horsemeat or the transport of horses to slaughterhouses in other countries.
The gruesome practice of slaughtering horses for food has no place in the United States, and it’s well past time for Congress to say once and for all that horsemeat is not what’s for dinner, said Sen. Menendez. Horses are routinely treated with drugs that are dangerous for human consumption and do not belong in our nation’s food supply. Our bipartisan legislation will help put an end to the cruel and inhumane slaughter of horses while protecting families from toxic horse meat and safeguarding the reputation of the U.S. food industry worldwide.
“Horses hold a special place in our history and culture, and the practice of slaughtering them to satisfy foreign appetites simply does not reflect the admiration we have for these animals,” said Sen. Collins. “In an effort to protect horses, this legislation would deter the transport or purchase of horses for human consumption.”
The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act prohibits the knowing sale or transport of equines or equine parts in interstate or foreign commerce for purposes of human consumption. It also makes it a federal crime punishable by up to two years in prison for individuals and slaughterhouses who violate the law.
While the slaughtering of horses for human consumption in the United States is exceedingly rare, data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reveals that over 100,000 American horses are exported to Canadian and Mexican slaughterhouses each year.
Sen. Menendez continually leads the effort to ban horsemeat by defunding federally required meat inspections by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) at slaughterhouses where horses are sent, which effectively prohibits any slaughter plants from killing horses.
Full text of the SAFE Act (S.2006) can be downloaded here.
Coalition of U.S. House members pen letter to DOI Secretary Bernhardt opposing sterilization of wild horses
A bipartisan group of House lawmakers is striking back at the Bureau of Land Management's latest attempt to test a permanent sterilization technique on wild horses.
The group of 30 congressional leaders, including four Republicans, sent a letter to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt late Friday urging him to "drop" BLM research into a controversial sterilization procedure — called ovariectomy via colpotomy — that involves removing the ovaries from mares. The latest proposal, which could begin as early as August, would involve about 100 mares already rounded up from a federal herd management area in central Oregon.
The lawmakers, led by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), also asked Bernhardt to "shed light" on why BLM is working "to push forward" with the proposed project after a federal judge last year issued an injunction halting the research. The bureau quickly abandoned the project and committed in February to adopt or sell most of the 845 wild horses it gathered up for the project.
But last month, BLM released a new environmental assessment (EA) analyzing the proposals to test the sterilization technique on mares at the Warm Springs Herd Management Area in Oregon. It marks at least the third time BLM has proposed such research, which has been challenged each time by litigation from advocacy groups.
"The BLM is charged with protecting wild horses under the landmark 1971 Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. From a welfare perspective, the 'spay' experiment raises serious concerns," the letter said. Among them are the "risks of infection, trauma, hemorrhage, evisceration, and even death," they wrote. BLM did not respond to a request for comment on this story before publication.
But according to the EA, the bureau wants to test the procedure "on at least 100 ungentled, wild horse mares" already rounded up last October as part of the previous attempt to research the sterilization technique. BLM would "contract with an experienced veterinary team" to conduct the "surgical procedure," it said.BLM would return about 28 to 34 of the sterilized mares to the range as part of the project. The U.S. Geological Survey would "evaluate the impacts of spaying" on these animals and on "herd behavior once returned to the range as compared with an untreated herd." Roughly 70 other mares would also be spayed and observed for seven days, then put up for adoption or sale and not returned to the range.
It's the latest effort by the bureau to find safe and effective ways to permanently sterilize mares as herd sizes grow rapidly across the West. But a federal judge blocked a similar proposal last year, and two years earlier BLM dropped a separate research proposal into several sterilization methods shortly after an advocacy group sued.
The congressional leaders led by Blumenauer wrote in the letter that they aren't convinced BLM will take proper precautions to care for the animals.
"It seems that the agency understands the risky nature of the procedure but is nevertheless aiming to quantify precisely how dangerous it is using federally-protected animals," they wrote. "This is especially disconcerting given the BLM's pronouncement that no post-operative antibiotics will be administered and that no veterinary interventions will be undertaken for any recovering horses returned to the range."
At the "absolute minimum," the letter said, if BLM conducts the tests it should include "veterinary and welfare oversight" similar to two previous proposals for sterilization research that included partnering with Oregon State University in 2016, and last year with Colorado State University.
Both universities dropped out before the research could begin, and the lawmakers noted with concern that such partnerships "are no longer a component of the project the BLM is attempting to yet again undertake."