A federal agency is seeking to enlist the help of contractors who can humanely apply fertility vaccines to wild horses, in a move applauded by Lady Freethinker and other wild horse advocates.
The federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has announced a $20 million investment, over the next five years, for contractors who can safely gather wild horses on the range, treat them with humane fertility vaccines, then release them to the public lands they call home.
Fertility vaccines have long been proven to be both safe and effective, especially compared to cruel alternatives like removing wild horses permanently from their homes or using brutal sterilization surgeries to curb their numbers.
The BLM’s announcement marks a shift toward a better way forward, with Director Tracy STone-Manning saying the agency is “laser focused on finding common sense solutions.”
“Increasing use of safe and humane fertility control methods to help stabilize herd growth is an important part of our plan to protect these animals and their habitat,” she said in a BLM press release. “Our goal is to ensure these animals can continue to survive and thrive on America’s public lands for generations to come.”
Reading into the details of the solicitation, which is open until June 9, raises some red flags, however.
The proposal notes that only some wild horses can be darted on the range; the rest will have to be gathered. While bait-trapping — in which hay is placed into a corral, and the wild horses wander in — is an option, so are cruel helicopter-assisted roundups.
More than 240 horses died as a result of helicopter-assisted roundups in 2021-2022, according to a Lady Freethinker analysis of the 20 roundups’ mortality data. The BLM’s sanctioned gather directly caused at least 33 of those tragic deaths, with animals suffering from snapped necks, broken bones, and “unexpected heart failure,” according to our report.
While we applaud the BLM shifting toward fertility vaccines as a best solution for wild horses, helicopter roundups must not factor into this new equation.
If you haven’t already, please sign our petition urging the BLM to retire helicopter-roundups, which have a long-standing history of causing death and injury to innocent and iconic wild horses.