The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is criticizing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for backing off on its plan to gather and spay wild horses on federal lands in western Wyoming.
NCBA accuses BLM of caving in to animal rights groups.
The controversy involves BLM’s plan to round up around one-thousand wild horses in western Wyoming, remove about 700 through adoption, sales or relocation, and then geld or spay the 300 remaining horses.
This would have been the BLM’s first attempt to spay wild horses and return them to their herd. Previously, the agency has used a contraceptive vaccine—which is not permanent—on the wild horse mares.
BLM officials now say they don’t have enough time to prepare for the spaying ahead of the roundup set for mid-August. So they will just geld the males and the mares will be returned to the range as is.
The director of federal lands for NCBA, Dustin Van Liew, who is also executive director of the Public Lands Council, says the decision affects the entire livestock industry—and not just in the West, but across the entire country.
“It’s another example of the current administration making a final decision based on sound science and public input, and then blowing to pressure from an outside group—and completely reversing a decision based only that pressure and possible threat of litigation,” says Van Liew.
Some groups objected to the BLM’s fertility control plan, contending the spaying procedure is risky and very traumatic for the mares.
“It’s unclear at this time who the groups are,” says Van Liew. “However, there are various groups across the West that are always at the forefront when these issues are pulled back.”