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Confusion Spay Plan Cancelled! (Legal Action Still Alive)

Confusion temporary holding pens

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has completed a partial review of the disputed Confusion Herd Management Area (HMA) Decision Record (DR).

At this time, the “spay” portion of the decision has been set aside. The agency has not made a final determination about how they will proceed with the rest of the finalized decision.

We will update this page as more info is filed with the courts. Social media postings early today broke the news before the final documents were filed. Our litigation, filed in October, challenged the brutal procedure and the way the agency made that decision.

We are seeing some real confusion over the determination not to do the ovariectomy via colpotomy at Confusion. This was not, we repeat, this was not  part of a court decision or any settlement due to litigation, any litigation. This was the result of administration review of priorities and internal policy. The new admin is creating their own priorities and this particular procedure will not be part of it. 

In other words, the dropping of this archaic spay procedure is a win for the wild ones. Everyone that called and wrote is just as responsible for this win as those of us who filed legal action (our case was filed in Oct. and almost fully heard, 2 other cases in Dec. and hundreds of thousands of calls and letters) and made the opposition louder. So, thank you.

The underlying factors that led to the decision in the first place, listed in all court challenges, are still very much alive and are still part of the Decision Record (DR) and none of that has changed. Our legal action remains active while the admin determines further changes to internal policy that may impact the disputed EA.

The DR for the Confusion HMA approved ovariectomy via colpotomy. This surgery requires a veterinarian to reach into a mares’ abdominal cavity through an incision in the vaginal wall, grabbing the ovaries, then twisting and severing them. Finally the veterinarian will pull them out of the mare using a rod-and-chain tool.

Confusion, Dec 2020

After internal review, the agency decided no ovariectomy via colpotomy will occur at Confusion . What will occur, has not been decided.

“We are delighted that the decision to spay these mares has been set aside by BLM,” stated Laura Leigh, President of Wild Horse Education (WHE). “However, our legal action addresses not only the archaic and inappropriate spay surgery, it addresses the inadequate process the agency used to arrive at the decision. We are happy this administration is creating a set of tools that does not include this procedure, but that does not resolve how these decisions are arrived at in the first place.”

On October 28, 2020, WHE filed litigation against the Confusion decision. Our litigation, filed prior to the roundup beginning, placed the decision officially “in dispute.” On January 27, WHE requested that several decisions, including the “spay plan” at Confusion, be reviewed.

WHE and BLM have agreed to continue to delay any further filings until the agency makes a determination on how to proceed with the disputed EA.

Confusion, Dec 2020

“Until we have open management planning, active and current HMAP planning, the public will continue to be relegated to this constant loop of debating removals and fertility control.” Leigh continued, “Real management, of any species involves a lot more than population suppression. It begins with resource planning the species needs for survival.” (more on Herd Management Area Plans, HMAP, here) 

Deficits in federal land management agency planning is a key area of ongoing discussion concerning many environmental interests. In January the Biden Administration issued an Executive Order (EO) addressing scientific integrity and science policy. The administrations policy is intended to guide government agencies to create sound decisions and restore public trust.

Confusion, 2020

“The BLM Wild Horse and Burro program is among the areas where planning is not only deficient in science, as the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has been stating for over 40 years, it is truly non-existent, and population suppression is not management, it is a tool of management,” stated Leigh, “The law, and internal policy, call for management plans for each and every herd. Instead, the agency simply uses removal plans to placate profit driven uses and skips management to protect the resource. Wild horses and burros are a public resource.”

The agency has determined that ovariectomy via colpotomy is not in line with new administrative policy. This was an internal decision, not a decision adjudicated by the courts. The legal action remains in what we can label a “pending” status until further review has been completed.

Sterilization is not “off the table” and there are multiple approved and pending decisions that include sterilization components.

We will update you when we have more information.


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Mare broke her neck on panel, Confusion 2020

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