The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is considering spaying wild mares in Oregon in an attempt to see if the procedure could be used to control wild horse populations on a larger scale in the West.
Spaying is not a routine procedure for wild mares, but the BLM is hopeful to use the Oregon mares as a test next month to see if the procedure can help with population control. In 2013, the National Academy of Sciences released a report discouraging spaying because of the potential for infection and inability to provide follow-up care to wild horses.
Currently the BLM has 48,000 wild horses that have been removed from Western states living in corrals. The organization spends nearly $50 million a year to care for the horses. Only a few thousand wild horses are adopted each year, leaving the vast majority in the holding pens.
The wild horses are located in areas where cattle graze, competing with them for grazing space and water. Water supplies in the past have gone dry, and the BLM has had to truck in water to prevent the horses from perishing. The BLM states that wild horse herds double in population every four years.
The BLM sees spaying the mares as a viable option for population control. Stallions have been gelded in the past, but the BLM does not feel that the method is a long-term control. Spaying is an outdated procedure among mares, but it can be done properly with minimal pain if performed by a vet experienced in the procedure.
Opponents to the spaying procedure are concerned that the procedure could change how the wild horses interact with one another.
Read more at Oregon Public Broadcasting.
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