Time to Come Clean…

Hello and Happy Friday!

We started talking about the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents that were obtained by American Wild Horse Campaign this week.  American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) shared a blog about it today and more news will be coming out about the experimentation that was done on the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  This experiment went on for at least 11 years if it is done at all.

We contacted AWHC 3 years ago and expressed our concerns about what was happening to our wild horses in TRNP.  Once the FOIA documents started coming in, my contact at AWHC called me and said:

“Chris, I want you to know that it was never that I didn’t believe what you were saying.  We needed to have proof.  Chris, we have that proof now.  You were right.  Everything you told us is true.”

I cried.  It was not a matter of being “right” it made my stomach sick as I read page after page and what had been done to our beautiful TRNP horses. 

There is A LOT to unpack in the 400+ pages of information they received.  We will start covering that  over the next week.  For now, we feel that the AWHC article gives you enough to digest while we work on future blog posts explaining more. You can read the article here: https://americanwildhorsecampaign.org/media/foia-records-raise-questions-sterility-theodore-roosevelt-mares?fbclid=IwAR3QXIHvpA5XqO07e7Uth7TkDq-oR8OADSw56MNoBowI8AAiTbdb40HpPcs

To be clear: Theodore Roosevelt National Park has REPEATEDLY told us that do not know if any of the mares have been permanently sterilized as a result of being treated with GonaCon.  As AWHC points out in their blog:

“In the past 12 months, at two public hearings on the LMP, two members of the NPS GonaCon research team, Dr. Jenny G. Powers (NPS, Wildlife Health Branch) and Dr. Blake E. McCann (NPS, TRNP’s Director of Resource Management and Science) stated that GonaCon did not result in sterilization.

During the Q&A at the 3/30/22 Civic Engagement Meeting for the LMP, Dr. Powers was asked if there is proof that any of the horses have been in any way sterilized by the GonaCon.  Her response:

“We do have a couple of published papers showing that GonaCon is reversible, meaning that animals return to fertility post-vaccination. However, with any individual animal, it is possible that they could be permanently sterilized, and it is unknown at this time if our current herd has sterilized individuals or not. We’d have to play out the rest of their reproductive lives to know that.”

Then, during the Q&A at the 1/13/2023 Virtual Public Scoping Meeting for the LMP, Dr. McCann was asked how many mares have become sterilized or not returned to fertility as a result of being treated with GonaCon. His response:

“So far as the specific question of sterility, I’m not aware of any animals that have been sterilized by GonaCon. And from our evaluation and published research, we believe that it is a safe agent to use for purposes of population control.

I have observed that animals are released from the effects of the contraceptive and they require boosters, so that’s at least some indicator there that we have not a completely lasting effect forever, but it is something that has to be maintained over time. Similar to other contraceptives that are used for horses elsewhere.

However, emails and handwritten notes acquired from AWHC’s FOIA requests suggest otherwise – that sterility of the TR mares was an issue and was discussed among the GonaCon research team and the BLM as early as Fall 2019.  For example, on October 29, 2019, Dr. Dan L. Baker (CSU, Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory) emailed Dr. Paul Griffin (BLM, National Wild Horse and Burro Program Research Coordinator), asking for a visit to discuss “a future experiment with the TR horses that would address the question of permanent sterility and differences in hand versus dart injection of GonaCon.””

Here is a copy of the email from Dan Baker to Paul Griffin that was sent on September 16, 2020 that NOT ONLY talks about how 19 out of 24 mares boosted with GonaCon in 2013 had not returned to fertility, BUT there was also talk of taking those 19 mares OUT OF THEODORE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL PARK TO CSU  so they could continue to experiment on them for the rest of their lives!!!!!

We need your help to fight for these horses.  What CSU and TRNP did to OUR wild horses with the help of “local residents” and their “volunteers” is horrific.   Not surprisingly, the park has had “no comment” or has redirected questions about this to their “portal”.  This is way beyond a question for the wild horse portal.  And their “No Comment” response is not acceptable.  The public deserves an answer. After all, we are supposed to trust Theodore Roosevelt National Park to present the public with an objective Environmental Assessment, right?

We have said it before and we will say it again, they have been following a management plan all this time.  They just let the public know about it on December 12, 2022.

Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates is committed to advocating for a wild horse management plan and protection for these unique wild horses that call Theodore Roosevelt National Park home!  We are fighting for a management plan that is guided by science especially when it comes to decisions regarding the removal of horses and the administration of birth control.  Many other wild horse management plans have proven to be successful with their science-based plans.  We are asking for the same for this amazing group of wild horses that call Theodore Roosevelt National Park home.

One thought on “Time to Come Clean…

  1. Out of curiosity, is it even legal to do animals experiments on animals within a national park? If so, is this a common practice?

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