Washington, D.C. Sept. 13, 2018 Today, the House and Senate Appropriations Committee Conferees will meet to decide the fate of America’s federally protected wild horse and burro herds. At issue is an amendment inserted by Congressman Chris Stewart (R-UT) in the House version of Interior appropriations legislation that would authorize the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to spend $15 million – nearly 20 percent of its Wild Horse and Burro Program budget – on a mass surgical sterilization program for entire herds.

In response, the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) and the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) sent a letter to conferees this week urging them to reject the Stewart language in the final bill.

“The Stewart amendment would gut the legal requirement to protect the wild free-roaming behaviors of wild horses and burros and manage them in self-sustaining herds,” said Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of AWHC. “This would overturn nearly 50 years of protections put in place by a unanimous Congress and turn America’s majestic wild horse and burro herds into docile museum exhibits, for those lucky enough to survive the barbaric procedure.”

“The Stewart amendment would allow the BLM to conduct barbaric, invasive surgeries on thousands of wild mares to remove their ovaries, subjecting them to pain, suffering and high risk of injury and death,” said Joanna Grossman, Ph.D., AWI’s equine program manager. “The National Academy of Sciences warned against this procedure due to risks of hemorrhage and infection. While the BLM has ignored science and the will of the American people, Congress should not.”

Last year, Rep. Stewart’s plan to legalize the mass killing of wild horses and burros on the range and in holding facilities was blocked when the Senate declined to sign on. This year, the congressman shifted focus to mass sterilization, but the Senate again did not incorporate his language in its version of Interior appropriations legislation. The conference committee will now decide whether the Stewart amendment is included in the final bill.

A copy of the letter sent by AWHC and AWI can be found here. See also the Statement of Principles for Humane Wild Horse Management, endorsed by more than 100 wild horse protection, horse welfare organizations and equine-related businesses across the country, opposing mass surgical sterilization of wild horses and burros.

The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is a national wild horse advocacy organization whose grassroots mission is endorsed by a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations. AWHC is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage.

The Animal Welfare Institute is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. For more information, visit www.awionline.org.