Yesterday, the BLM released 5 trailers, containing 50 mares treated with 2 doses of GonaCon. GonaCon is a long lasting hormonal birth control vaccine. Given in 2 doses, infertility can last 5-7 years or longer. When older mares are treated (which is standard practice for BLM) infertility can last the for the remainder of the lifetime of the mare. BLM says that they treat mare that are not pregnant with the heavy doses of hormones contained in GonaCon. Although released, these mares are unlikely to contribute to the genetic stability of the remainder of this once large herd that the roundup left skewed to favor males. We do not know what life holds for the fertile mares left on the range. At this time, BLM has no plans to study behavior changes as they did not monitor band structure and seasonal movement before the roundup.
We were allowed to watch one trailer load as wild horses were released simultaneously throughout the complex.
BLM capture 1,897 wild horses from the 1.2 million acre complex during an operation that ended August 25. Wild horses were captured, trucked to a processing facility over 200 miles away, sorted, treated twice and trucked back.
During the release of 25 studs back to the range immediately after the roundup, it was confirmed that BLM did not track the location horses were captured from and return them to “home range.” Triple B is over 1.2 million acres of designated wild horse territory that is criss-crossed with barbed wire fencing for domestic livestock that runs on public lands.
There was a time when BLM actually began to track where horses were captured from and/or released near waters. Today, BLM has become lax on doing any tracking or paperwork and seems to be working only for their convenience.
Releases are bittersweet. We are happy these old mares were returned to the range and are not facing sale authority or a danger that signs of old age will subject them to euthanasia. We looked for other wild horses in the area the mares were released and found a band, but on the other side of a cattle guard (fence). We wish these mares well as winter rapidly approaches and hope they found other horses to help them navigate this terrain. We will check on the area as time allows.
Fiscal 2022: The BLM roundup schedule approved the capture of a record number of wild horses and burros: 24,126. Of that number BLM approved 2,475 for treatment/release after some for of fertility control (various vaccines, I.U.D., sterilization). This comes to about 10.25% of animals captured (a record number for fertility control). Of that number 1,608 have been treated and released and updated in records (about 7% of the number captured and about half the approved numbers of treatments).
Over the last 7 years wild horses and burros find themselves in the “take away” column. Everything takes from them. Mines take land, water and fragment habitat with traffic and fences. Livestock takes grazing land and fragments habitat. Recreation fragments habitat. Removals take freedom and endanger lives through a lack of oversight that leads to slaughter and illness. Fertility control impacts genetics and takes the ability to reproduce away. Mixing fertility control substances and methods takes natural behaviors away. Ten year “gather-ea” creation (instead of management plans, HMAP) take your voice away.
Over the last few years there have been many pushing the need to “make friends” with BLM over advocating for the best interests of wild horses and burros. “Don’t litigate!” has become a mantra repeated in many different forms. Can you imagine an environmental group saying those words? Enviro groups have been writing weekly appeals and working on litigation in an accelerated fashion over the last 7 years. Livestock continues to file appeals against any restrictions on grazing public lands.
No matter how “friendly” a law may be worded, there will always be a necessity to hold agencies accountable.
In order to get something back, make progress, we need to be willing to fight for it.
We are wild horse and burro advocates after all.
Help keep us in the fight.
Our founder speaking to the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board earlier this month.
Categories: Wild Horse Education