Bipartisan Members of Congress Denounce Gruesome Wild Horse Sterilization Experiments

Washington, DC (June 24, 2019) … The nation’s largest wild horse protection organization, the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) today commended Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus for spearheading a bipartisan letter signed by members of Congress to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, expressing concerns over the proposed surgical sterilization experiments planned by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). 

In the invasive procedure called “ovariectomy via colpotomy,” a veterinarian cuts into a mare’s vaginal wall, places a hand and arm through the vagina in the abdominal cavity, manually (and blindly) locates the ovaries and then severs and removes them with a rod-like chain tool called an ecraseur. It has drawn overwhelming public outrage and veterinarians have called it “barbaric” and “risky”.  

The letter, spearheaded co-signed by 30 members of the House of Representatives, asked for clarification which has perplexed those in the animal welfare community:

“We ask that you shed light on the BLM’s reversal and new decision to push forward with the ovariectomy project – after three failed attempts to undertake the surgical sterilization experiments – as well as the decision to forgo working closely with an academic institution for the purposes of conducting this type of research study. At what stage did the BLM decide that identifying an academic partner that would provide expertise in equine veterinary medicine and welfare was no longer necessary to the project?”

In 2016, AWHC and The Cloud Foundation (TCF) sued to uphold their First Amendment right to observe the experiments, a major objective of which was to determine the social acceptability of the procedure. To avoid public observation, the BLM canceled the study.

In 2018, the BLM announced that it was moving forward with the spay feasibility study even after two major research institutions—Colorado State University and Oregon State University—ended their affiliations with the project. At that time, AWHC, TCF, and the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) went to court, represented by the public interest law firm Meyer Glitzenstein & Eubanks, LLP, and obtained a preliminary injunction to stop the BLM from proceeding. The BLM later announced it would abandon the experiments yet again.

“AWHC applauds Representative Blumenauer and his colleagues who signed this letter for their leadership in protecting America’s iconic wild horses and burros from these barbaric experiments,” said Suzanne Roy, Executive Director for the AWHC. “It is irresponsible and a waste of tax dollars to continue to pursue objectionable experiments while the scientifically recommended and cost-effective fertility control options are  readily available for humane management right now on the range.”


The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is the nation’s leading wild horse protection organization, with more than 700,000 supporters and followers nationwide. AWHC is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage.