Appeal of “Spay” Plan on FILE


Wild Horse Education has filed a legal action against (what has become known as the “spay” plan) decision BLM released for the Confusion HMA in Utah. (We know how important this is to you and felt you would want to know immediately. The documents just left the desk.)

The BLM finalized a plan to include a non-reproducing component at the Confusion HMA on October 5. BLM has rushed to get the plan onto the roundup schedule to begin November 28. The plan, once approved, will cover BLM operations in the area for a decade.

BLM defines the “non-reproducing component” as up to 50% of mares receiving ovariectomy via colpotomy (spaying). This procedure is usually performed on domestic mares with neoplastic cysts that may be malignant or benign. (you can read all the details  of the plan in the October 5 Decision Record posted on the BLM National NEPA register HERE)

BLM plans to carry out this drastic shift in management for the Confusion HMA, not only by avoiding specific aspects of paperwork, but infringing on the First Amendment. At no time during the procedure, or recovery, will they allow press/public access.

“There are so many points of issue with the final plan. They range from failures to adequately address comments to flagrantly thumbing their noses at the First Amendment and everything in between.” said Laura Leigh, President of Wild Horse Education (WHE), “Not only is the plan unsound procedurally, it is an insult to the public and the Constitution. The disregard for the damage done to public trust and the public resource, wild horses, is unconscionable.”

“I have been following the push toward spaying wild horses and fighting it for years,” stated Elyse Gardner Walsh. “We need to call a halt on the extremes to which BLM is willing to subject wild horses, bringing pain and suffering and experimentation. Spaying wild mares is crossing a line that must not be crossed.”

The Confusion HMA is not an isolated HMA, it is in an area where populations may move into, and from, other HMAs. The ramifications threaten to impact not only Confusion, but Swasey, and to a limited extent, Conger.

Map included for illustration.

We have begun a legal challenge that addresses multiple issues contained in the Decision Record: the process BLM chose to include the spay “experiment,”the lack of a record to substantiate  a “non-reproducing” component, the lack of inclusion in the CAWP policy, lack (and obstruction) of public engagement, First Amendment and, WHE even tossed in, the preliminary evidence of a connection to directives that (likely) originated from William Perry Pendley.

We will do a more in-depth piece on the Final EA, and legal action, as time allows.

Captive mares

Our readers should know: there is also evidence that there are individuals negotiating for “exclusive” access to witness the surgery and recovery process. This is not acceptable.  WHE have been subjected to “BLM chosen observers” in the past that have whitewashed. Would you take the word of observers handpicked through a backdoor deal? we would not, and have litigated and won against that exact type of exclusivity in the past. We were offered that kind of exclusivity in the past, refused it, and fought for the rights of all, even those we disagree with, to view handling of wild horses and burros.

Our research is also pointing to information that the “spay plan” at Confusion, and many other BLM priorities, as originating from a memo that came from the directives of William Perry Pendley. These directives changed the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Handbook, an action that, perceivably, must be approved by the director.  Pendleys tenure as acting chief of the agency was ruled illegal by Judge Morris in the action bought by Montana Governor Bullock. At this juncture 3 land use plans in Montana have been reversed. We are looking at ways to challenge these changes.

We have every expectation that others will be filing their own legal claims. The (similar) operation proposed at Warm Springs generated a flurry of legal briefs from multiple sources, although we have not seen any action yet with 31 days and counting.

Confusion is on the schedule to begin November 28, just 31 days from today. This is a real rush to completion for this, truly experimental, project by an agency that claims it does not even have funding to do field monitoring in areas hard hit by drought and fire.

Wild mares, once captive, will become part of an experimental procedure to surgically remove their reproductive capabilities. The BLM does not want you, or the press, to see any of it.

We are not very active on social media and have been asked “what are you doing?”

There is a lot of work to do on the action against the plan for the Confusion HMA.

At the same time, BLM has launched the winter assault through the roundup schedule. A lot of work to do.

Our research is demonstrating that some of the upcoming roundup operations on the schedule may be subject to additional legal claims. Massive mining and livestock projects are also being approved that will hit wild horse country hard.

It is a very busy “end of 2020.”


Help us stay in the fight. 





Categories: Legal