Print Page
January 30, 2009
In Reply Refer To:
4750 (WO260) P
Instruction Memorandum No. 2009-063
Expires: 09/30/2010
To:                   All Field Officials except Alaska
From:               Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning
Subject:           Gelding of Wild Horses and Burros and Gelding Vouchers
Program Area: Wild Horse and Burro Program
Purpose: The purpose of this Instruction Memorandum (IM) is to establish policy for the gelding of wild horse stallions and burro jacks and to provide guidance for the consistent use of gelding vouchers.
1.      Gelding Policy for Wild Horse Stallions and Burro Jacks 
  1. Wild Horse Stallions 
  • Except as provided below, geld all horses removed from the range or that are born in wild horse corral facilities once the horse are weanlings or older. But Animals are not required to be gelded if they are preferred by adopters as stallions because of extraordinary conformation or color or because they come from highly popular herd management areas.  Authorized officers will determine which animals are exempt from gelding.
  • This policy is not retroactive and does not apply to wild horse stallions less than four years old in holding facilities prior to this policy’s implementation date.
  • All horses sent to long-term holding (LTH) facilities will be gelded prior to arrival at the LTH facilities.
  • Cryptorchid animals can remain partially fertile and cause serious problems when unknowingly adopted or sold to the public. Special care should be taken with these animals so as not to allow them to move between facilities, get into the public’s hands, or be placed in long-term holding.  If the animal is a single cryptorchid, the descended testicle should never be removed unless the retained testicle is removed at the same time.  If the animal cannot be fully castrated at the facility where it is prepped for adoption or at LTH, it will be regarded as having a serious physical defect and will be euthanized in accordance with the euthanasia policy. This should be done before the animal has recovered from anesthesia or as soon as possible thereafter. 
  1. Burro Jacks 
  • Burro jacks offered for adoption should not be gelded absent special circumstances or a preference for that in the adoption market.
  • Burro jacks affected by cryptorchidism will be handled in the same manner as stallions. 
2.       Gelding Vouchers
Adopters will be issued a $50 voucher for each ungelded horse they take. Vouchers will not be issued for burro jacks.
3.      Gelding Method
Gelding will be performed with anesthesia and by a veterinarian. The combination of pharmaceutical compounds used for anesthesia, chemical restraint, method of physical restraint, and the specific surgical technique used will be at the discretion of the attending veterinarian with the approval of the authorized officer.
Time Frame: This policy is effective immediately.
Budget Impact: This change in gelding policy requires that horses of weaning age to three years be gelded. The increase in gelding costs due to the new policy in any given year will depend on how many excess animals are removed. In fiscal year 2007, when 6,626 horses were removed from the range, there were 2,143 males that were weanling age to 3 years old. Under the old policy that did not require these horses to be gelded, 1,216 (57%) were gelded anyway at the option of facility managers, leaving 927 (43%) not gelded. During fiscal year 2007 gelding expenses would have increased by about $93,000 under the new policy.
Background:   In 2005, the National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board recommended that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) review its policy of gelding six-year-old and older horses and consider lowering the gelding age of stallions to one year, keeping in mind that special animals may be left ungelded because of their uniqueness.   BLM conducted a review of its gelding policy and practices (Gelding Policy Issue Paper, June 2005) that considered customer preferences, animal adoptability, and short-term holding facility capability. 
BLM changed its gelding policy in 2006, lowering the mandatory gelding age to all stallions at least four years old. Even though the 2006 policy required only that BLM geld stallions four years and older, most BLM facilities have been gelding nearly all male horses. The 2006 policy is being revised to comply with the Advisory Board’s 2005 recommendation, provide consistency in gelding at all preparation centers, and apply a gelding standard that is common practice in the equine industry. The sections on the management of cryptorchid stallions and jacks were added because several cryptorchid horses were unknowingly moved between facilities and subjected to multiple surgeries. Additionally, complaints have been received from adopters who returned cryptorchid horses that were not castrated to BLM or asked BLM to compensate them for the cost of additional surgery to correct the problem.
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: This policy supplements guidance contained in Handbook 4750-1.
Coordination: This policy has been coordinated with the National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board and reviewed by Wild Horse & Burro (WH&B) personnel involved with facility operations and the adoption program.
Contact: Questions concerning this policy should be directed to Dean Bolstad, Deputy Division Chief, WH&B Program at (775) 861-6611.
Signed by:                                                                  Authenticated by:
Edwin L. Roberson                                                     Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director                                                      Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Renewable Resources and Planning

Last updated: 10-20-2009