Wild Horse Education

Why is BLM Pushing Spaying? Comments due this week

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Mare in BLM holding facility that will never be released.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has been pushing spaying of wild horses, hardline, the last two years.

Comments are due on June 12, for the third time, on an EA out of the Burns district in Oregon for a “Spay Study” on the Warm Springs herd. (you can access the EA HERE)

Multiple organizations, including those representing a “pro horse slaughter” platform to the public as well as being a driving force behind spaying, are urging the public to send mass comments on this document.

The number of comments is irrelevant, the content of a comment is relevant. Comment periods are not a public vote, they are to point out failures of analysis and failures in compliance with the law. One comment, or 100K, that all point out the same flaw? count as a single, relevant, objection that BLM must address prior to implementing a proposed decision. BLM can not cite the number “pro or con” as a justification for a proposed action. If BLM fails to adequately answer a concern, finalizes approval for the action, litigation can then ensue. In other words, it is irrelevant how many proslaughter folks say “I’m for it,” or advocates say “I’m against it.” What matters is the law.

This proposal has been dropped by BLM, and/or vacated by the court, twice now. Why a third time?

The BLM loves to point critical fingers at advocacy for not understanding, and complying, with the chain of authorities or processes of law. Yet, the BLM is guilty of doing the same, often. It is one of the reasons litigation against BLM is successful. Pointing to them as the “ultimate authority” becomes put into fast perspective when you see just how sloppy they can be in paperwork, that repeatedly loses in court challenges; not just on wild horses, but on multiple public lands issues.

In the case of the spay experiment BLM simply does not have the legal authority to propose this as an action on a specific herd; let alone repeatedly waste tax-payer funding preparing, commenting, creating a decision, and then the time and expense of litigation. That is why they are currently asking Congress for that authority. They do not have it, but they want it. That is simply not the same thing and provides no authority to actualize this EA.

How much has this proposal already cost the tax-payer in simple man hours?

Authorities, there are none

This EA relies on a few far-fetched premises, concepts and, literally, grasping at straws to find the authority:

~ The Resource Management Plan is 26 years old. It does not even include any environmental analysis on the implications of a non-reproductive component, the drugs used during the procedure (impact to environment if wild horses die on range), the genetic implications, the implications of changes in movement and behavior. The RMP is not an adequate document to tier this to.

~ There is no supplement to the RMP. There is no Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP) that could supplement the RMP. There is no “wild horse” supplement to the RMP. There is no adequate underlying document to tier this to.

~ BLM currently has no authority under the Wild Horses and Burros Act to manage non-reproducing wild horses. This EA tries to tier to an Advisory Board, that has no legal authority. This EA tries to tier to the BLM Report to Congress for fiscal year 2019, that was not adopted by Congress. Neither of those give BLM any legal authority and their inclusion is far more than “grasping at straws,” it demonstrates a motivation to placate an interest trying to usurp federal authority and control the actions of land managers.

~ A proposed action, with this much potential impact, and that impact breaks with any standard procedure, is not even appropriate in the “Environmental Assessment” category of NEPA, it belongs in the “Environmental Impact Statement” category. (NEPA)

~ Since this administration took office BLM has had no Director, a position vetted by Congress. Instead the BLM has been running an unstable agency without real, legal, leadership. The former Secretary Ryan Zinke and both of the Deputies (either acting or actual) with authority of the Director, have direct and personal involvement with the entities pushing this agenda item that changes policy. (the entire Deputy Director Game has effected many programs, not just wild horses. MORE HERE)

We all know there is a huge corporate interest movement being pushed by Chris Stewart (R-UT), whose former Chief of Staff is currently the BLM Deputy Director who was directly involved in crafting the “agreement” waved in the fiscal 2020 debate, that would provide the authorities needed to carry out the proposed spay experiment. But those authorities are currently not on BLM’s list.

Brian Steed worked for Stewart up until last year in the DC office on policy. Sitting as the Deputy Director he will present the BLM Report to Congress, that incorporates the document his fingerprints are on from the corporate interests represented by Stewart’s so called “alliance” agreement! All of this is, most likely, illegal. Steeds involvement deserves a hard probe from Congress. (PEER complaint on the Deputy Director game at Park Service)

note: the corporate alliance agreement is also the underlying document in the BLM Report to Congress. The report asks for “new authorities” to carry out the proposed actions that include managing non-reproducing herds and it asks for any analysis on actions that effect wild horses to drop to a “Categorical Exclusion.” In other words, no need to do EAs like this and minimize any litigation. (more HERE)

We do not see emergency funding sent to districts to update archaic land use plans as extraction (hard rock mining and oil and gas) run full steam taking acre, after acre, away from wild horses.

We do not see any push to create HMAPs (that would actually create management objectives, and preservation strategies, site-by-site).

All we see are politics driving the entire process, regardless of the law. This EA is one of those highly political activities, not management.

This is not stewardship, leadership, or in the best interest of the public and resources. This is cronyism.

The Procedure Itself

The absurdities of the intensely invasive nature of the procedure are not analyzed appropriately either. Capture is stressful and inherently dangerous, this procedure is way beyond the expensive capture it requires.

BLM is mandated to manage wild horses humanely. It took intense, and relentless, litigation (by WHE) to force BLM to create the beginning of a Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy (IM2015-151), commonly called simply “CAWP.” CAWP was to be a first step, revised and added to each year. The revisions were to begin to include revisions to standards for capture, welfare standards for holding, and any other procedure or protocol. CAWP has not been revised.

CAWP does not even begin to contemplate such an invasive procedure done in a holding facility. Before such a dangerous procedure BLM needs to revise, and expand, CAWP.

Behavioral “study”

Wild horses are not dogs and cats. Wild horses are not domestic horses. Wild horses do not live in a barn or fenced pasture. The impact to the environment the wild horse lives in is not analyzed.

A behavioral study that begins, when an experiment begins on a subset of the whole, is an absurdity. A behavioral study, that would chart the actual impacts to behavior, would need to begin years before manipulating the whole. Basic logic shows a serious flaw.

We know what PZP already does and those impacts could be excluded. PZP treat and release and begin a behavioral study on the specific herd in the specific area. Only then would any results be obtained that could serve as a baseline.

Or better yet, just release the mares and begin a study. Then you can talk about any further manipulation either with PZP or GonaCon, management tools the BLM has actual authority to implement.


You can review the EA and use some of these talking points in your individual comments, we did. You can access the EA HERE and email comments before June 12.

You can email comments to: blm_or_bu_spaystudy@blm.gov

In addition you should call Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), who is now the chair of Natural Resources in the House, and ask when he is going to bring a real hearing to the floor on wild horses? You can ask him if he is going to get the hearing to the floor into “Extremism on public lands,” that he tried so hard to bring and was denied, as minority ranking member. (read more HERE). The people involved in the politics of intimidation are the same ones pushing things like spaying in wild horses. Both those hearings would help.


BLM being told to “look at options” and report to Congress is not authority to spend tax payer funding to repeatedly try to cram a spay study into reality. (an analogy: Your teenager wants body piercing. You tell them to look at options and get back to you. Instead they show up at the diner table with a rod through the bridge of their nose. The response you get is “you told me to look at options!”)

The BLM report for 2019 was not adopted.

The BLM Report to Congress for 2020 (that will include prioritization of corporate influence through Stewart) has not even been made public yet.


We are not about “obstructing dialogue, being overly emotional, or being unreasonable”… this is about justice.

BLM is playing dirty games co-opted by those that will do things like put your license plate online and threaten your life. This “plan” has those same individuals behind it.

Our wild horses deserve more than this… and so does the American public.

Help us stay in the fight. 


For regular readers: did you notice that the Greater Sage Grouse is being used to justify spaying wild mares? More on the dance of collaboration in the name of the grouse: https://wildhorseeducation.org/2019/06/01/dont-blame-the-holy-cow-fire-sage-grouse-wild-horses-pandering/



Categories: Wild Horse Education