Comment period open for wild horse spay feasibility research



BLM Office:

Burns District Office

Media Contact:

Tara Thissell

HINES, OR – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Burns District announces the availability of a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for wild horse spay feasibility and behavioral research. The research will be conducted at Oregon’s Wild Horse Corral Facility near Hines. 

Wild horse herds on public lands can grow quickly, doubling in size in four years and tripling in six years if not managed. Since receiving Federal protection in 1971, the nationwide wild horse and burro population has soared to nearly 82,000 animals, more than three times the number that can survive long-term along with wildlife and other uses of the land.  In addition, there are no long-lasting fertility-control methods that can effectively control growth in most herds. 

In partnership with Colorado State University and the U.S. Geological Survey, the BLM is proposing a research project to evaluate the feasibility of spaying some wild horse mares as a means to slow population growth.  The proposed procedure, ovariectomy via colpotomy, is a standard used for domestic horses and is generally considered less invasive than a typical spay procedure used for domestic cats and dogs. The procedure takes fewer than 15 minutes to complete and is more cost-effective than available short-term fertility control vaccines. The BLM intends to study the impacts to mares and the wild horse band behaviors once the treated animals are returned to the range. 

Nationwide, the BLM is investing in a diverse portfolio of research projects to develop new, modern technologies and methods to improve management, slow the wild horse and burro population growth rates and reduce the need to remove animals from public lands. The studies are in response to a 2013 recommendation from the National Academy of Science to develop new or improve existing population grown suppression methods for wild horses and is in accordance with The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. 

“The BLM is proud to support research that will assist the BLM with managing the population dynamics within the Wild Horse and Burro Program,” said Brian Steed, BLM Deputy Director for Policy and Programs.  “This research, if proven successful, may provide a much needed tool to the BLM to more effectively manage healthy herds on public lands.” 

A 30-day public comment period on the Draft EA closes on July 30, 2018. Comments can be mailed or faxed to the BLM Burns Office at the address below, or submitted by email to: Entire comments, including personal identifying information, may be published as part of the EA and Decision Record process. 

Mail or deliver to:Fax:
Mare Spay Research Project Lead(541) 573-4411
BLM Burns District OfficeAttn: Mare Spay Research Project Lead
28910 Highway 20 West, Hines, Oregon 97738 

Copies of the Draft EA are available for review at the BLM Burns District Office during regular business hours, or online at  To search for the EA on this site, you can either use the map to locate "Burns District, Oregon," or click on the "Text Search" tab and filter by state (Oregon), document type (EA), year (2018), and program (Wild Horses and Burros).

For further information about Oregon’s spay feasibility project or to have your name added to the project mailing list, contact the Project Lead at (541) 573-4555.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.