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Wild horse destruction and the question of PZP

In an article by the Associated Press (via OregonLive.com) they report:

RENO, Nevada — (AP) United in their belief wild horses should remain free to roam public rangeland across the West, groups working to protect the mustangs are increasingly at odds over whether contraception should play a role in the decades-old dispute over efforts to reign in the natural size of the herds.

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign — made up of more than 60 groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, Animal Welfare Institute and In Defense of Animals — has been willing to accept treating mares with the anti-fertility drug PZP as a more humane alternative to gathering and shipping mustangs to costly holding facilities.

“The use of birth control, in the form of the PZP vaccine, was recommended by the National Academy of Sciences and is in line with public opinion and taxpayer interests,” campaign spokeswoman Deniz Bolbol said.

Leaders of two dissenting groups who recently won a court order blocking a roundup in Nevada are harshly critical of the national coalition, accusing some members of abandoning the mustangs’ best interests.

The New York-based Friends of Animals and San Francisco-based Protect Mustangs say recent studies show use of the contraceptive, which keeps the horses from reproducing for two years, is having an unnatural impact on the herds’ social structure.

U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks in Reno agreed in February when he blocked a roundup based partly on BLM’s reliance on a 5-year-old study suggesting contraception prompts some mares unable to become pregnant to leave in search of stallions in other bands. Newer data disputes that finding.

“We champion the herd’s freedom and will prevent special interest groups from using them as pharmaceutical lab rats for drug research,” Protect Mustangs executive director Anne Novak said.

We are members of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign group and support their work.

On the PZP issue, we concur with the statement “. . . has been willing to accept treating mares with the anti-fertility drug PZP as a more humane alternative to gathering and shipping mustangs to costly holding facilities”.

In saying that, we do not favor the drug itself. We simply agree that it is a more humane alternative to gathering and shipping Mustangs to costly holding facilities. It is not mentioned, but we know historically some Mustangs are sent to slaughter. PZP is definitely preferable to that. But is it really a viable overall solution?

From the same article:

Holly Hazard, senior vice president of the Humane Society of the United States, said internal dissent is nothing new but acknowledged the “tone and tenor is ramping up.” She said the claim her group pushes PZP to raise money is “ludicrous.”

“We have been working with PZP for 20 years,” she said. “We believe it’s the best hope for getting the wild horse management challenges under control.”

Yes, 20 years of working with PZP. And look at all the destruction and empty herd areas.

The important questions are:

Has PZP actually spared any wild horses or saved a herd? Some wild horse advocates say that it has.

Are the groups espousing PZP selling out America’s wild horses and subjecting them to a harmful drug that no one truly knows the consequences of? Someone with more expertise than we have will have to answer that. We are currently canvassing experts for some answers.

We agree 100% with this remark by Hazard:

Hazard said the groups share the same “pure vision of what we’d like to see — which would be horses remaining on the range, untouched by man.”

However we disagree with this:

“But if the only argument you can make is they should be left free on the range, I say that they are not now and will not ever be — at least in the reasonable future,” she said. “We want a solution. We don’t want to rattle our saber toward a victory that will never come.”

A victory that will never come? That is totally unacceptable. And a typical welfarist response.

In the meantime, the “raging debate” about PZP among wild horse groups may be moot. The only opinion concerning PZP that matters at the moment belongs to the BLM.

Guess what?

The BLM doesn’t give a flip about what the National Academy of Sciences says about PZP.

The BLM claims that contraceptive efforts have failed.

In light of this “fact” the BLM states it will continue to round up America’s wild horses and dispose of them in the same fashion. And we know what that means. And the reasons for it.

It is about livestock, mining, and energy interests. It is also about keeping millions of dollars in Congressional funding coming into the Wild Horse and Burro Program making BLM contractors (and reportedly some BLM employees) very, very rich indeed.

So at the moment and for the purposes of this article the Friends of Animals and Protect Mustangs have the upper hand in the PZP debate. Only one solution. The one we always have and will prefer. Total. Freedom.

RELATED READING

• Wild horses, federal grazing and America’s billionaire welfare ranchers; Tuesday’s Horse

• The Wild Horse Conspiracy; Craig Downer

15 thoughts on “Wild horse destruction and the question of PZP”

  1. on my facebook page I posted two stories concerning the blm . one is about the horses and advocates , it’s about the debate between the two advocate groups . I personally think this show down is just giving the blm more room to do their damage –in which they are going to inflict no matter which side of the road your on . I just think it took anne standing in front of congress and having her say to the “peoples ” congress to get the notice due the horses. I really don’t what it will take now in today’s atmosphere . the other article posted is the ranchers and dairy’s in southern ca are having fits with the park service for not fencing in the tule elk that are eating pasture land that the cows could be having. go read the article . my f/b page isn’t hard to find.

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  2. Unfortunately, some trust the word of BLM despite its actions. Some groups agreed to PZP even the famous Pryor Mountain herds, regardless, BLM will remove 30 youngsters soon leaving one foal for each mare and the mare PZPd. Despite using PZP, BLM will neuter all White Mountain, WY herds on the range which will lead to many deaths. BLM plans to remove over 100 wild horses from the Kiger & Riddle HMAs in Oregon — these horses have a lot of Spanish ancestry in them and have been there since the conquistadors. The Kiger dun horses show the ancient dorsal marking; therefore, it stands to reason that Spanish horses mated with native horses. Our wild horses are being managed to extinction by BLM against the mandate of law and the will of citizens.

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  3. One of the things that bother me the most is when roundups are held even AFTER mares are treated with PZP. The way I see it is that the whole entire purpose of fertility control is to serve as a substitute, NOT as an add-on, to inhumane, traumatic, and costly removals. It isn’t perfect, but if we can all agree on one thing, it is that removals should be done away with. My anger is not directed towards PZP. Rather, it’s directed squarely at the BLM’s mismanagement. IF you’re going to use it, STOP THE REMOVALS. Period.

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    1. This is one reason why it is difficult for us to support it. It is not used instead of roundups but in addition to roundups. I am told that isn’t always the case but when I ask for an example none are forthcoming. I am not sure what that means. Maybe we are asking the wrong people. One thing is for certain. The BLM are determined to remove as many wild horses and burros from public lands as possible while keeping them in the money for as long as possible.

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  4. “The BLM claims that contraceptive efforts have failed.” I would like to know where this statement is made? No mention of the Assateague herd is made here and PZP has worked in that herd very successfully for 23 years. The fact is that the people from FoA and PM are spreading outright mistruths about PZP and that only hurts the debate going on. They have made claims about pzp that they cannot back up with good science. AWHPC supports the science. There are excellent, peer reviewed studies with control groups. The 2 studies that PM and FoA provided during debates were bogus science. These 2 groups have a Facebook ‘forum’ on PZP and have banned everyone who disagrees with their beliefs which by definition is the total opposite of a ‘forum’. The purist view that we will stomp our feet, protest, and stop round ups and provide freedom without humans ever interfering is NOT going to happen. The Nevada round up that PM and FoA ‘stopped” had ZERO to do with PZP, but was the result of an outdated EA and that is being redone with the timeline for a possible fall roundup. BLM stated they would not push to get the EA updated in a hurry because they could not do round ups before fall due to foaling season. Let interview people from both sides of the fence if we are to do proper unbiased reporting! PZP is safe, does not present more familial disruptions than round ups and holding facilities. It is a much better, safer solution. As we progress along that path gathers will be done via bait traps, and fertility control via dart, in all small HMA’s, larger areas will still have helicopter round ups according to BLM, however the end result will be horses left on the range and NOT shipped to holding or….slaughter. For several good studies on PZP please go to: http://www.angelfire.com/designsbysasha/NANaH/Articles/pzp.html and read!

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    1. You are incorrect about blm leaving the horses on their wildlands. See the recent Sulphur roundup – almost every mare jad a PZP brand, the Adobe Town roundup, high percentage of mares with PZP brands – together with efforts years past of compromise by advocates to avoid roundups and watched blm pzp for that purpose, didn’t work. And then there are the multiple herd areas in Nevada who have been pzp’d for 20 years with roundups scheduled and implemented.

      There is NOTHING guaranteeing the horses will not be gathered. The burros are so impacted, they may not survive. And man breedng of horses os a disaster, broken forelegs in TBs, HYPP in QHs, vicious tempers in Stdbds, dish faces so extreme no breathing in aRabs. In wild horses on the East Coast, we had thecent 2 live foals born ou of a population of 100 and one was euthanized due to broken forelegs at birth and the ther was taken out of the herd with its dam due to extremely retreacted forelegs.

      Leave the species alone! Get out of their wildlands. Let them live! Go find a car to tinker with. Get domestic grazing off herd areas and out of their forest lands.

      Peace!

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    2. A BLM employee made that statement to us directly. I believe they have also made it publicly.

      This is our blog. We express opinions here as well as publish fact-based reports. We don’t expect everyone to agree with us. Neither do we claim to be unbiased.

      Helpful debate is good. Mudslinging not so much.

      Plenty of people make up stuff. My experience is that it’s best to ignore them and stay focused on getting your message to decision makers.

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    3. what you are advocating is in violation of the wild and free roaming act passed in 1971, that means you-like the BLM are determined to manage wild horses like they are your domestic animals, thats all you know-spay and neuter..while that is a wonderful thing for domestics which have LITTERS-you are completely out of line and quite frankly-brain dead if you donot understand that actions you promote-are leading to the demise of wild herds. corollas you do not mention, but they are horribly inbred due to PZP reducing the genetic pool and being decimated..quite frankly you donot know enough about genetics to get on any soapbox..Corolla is having horrible birth defects in foals due to inbreeding and has finally got 1 outside stallion and hoping to get some mares, but I am sorry to tell them, that is not enough when you have introduced double recessives into your gene pool..shackleford quit using it due to aberrant social behavior observed in their herds and contacted Nunez about the princeton study which exposed those behaviors ..ISPM I understand has asked to have their name removed from your list of supporters, the longest mustang group in existence- Wild Horse Annies group -and the only one who manages their own herds of viable mustangs-your organization handles NO mustangs-is not involved as other than a mouthpiece

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    4. You need to read Karen Sussman’s research on PZP at http://www.ISPMB.org After 5 consecutive doses it makes mares sterile. Also I think removals are used at Assateague. Recently a stallion was brought in to the Corolla wild horses I think in SC as their genetic viability was so low. Wasn’t PZP used on those mares?

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  5. I do believe that Friends of Animals and protect Mustang have the correct vision, as intended by The Act setting aside land for the horses and burros. To nw impinge their right to survival by sterilizing the mares (and still having blm excise excess horses) is to protect them with a decided lack of temerity but rather with abject fear. Solve the problem of conflict! Get the domestic grazers, extractive industries and energy projects off their herd areas. Allow the wildlands (the last anchored by the wild horses and burros except for designated wildnerness areas) to be their sanctuary. Stop the ridiculous infliction of harm.

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  6. Excellent piece Vivian! You’re right that the BLM can give a hoot what we think about PZP, but I have to disagree about FoA and PM having the upper hand in this argument. We all want our wild horses to be free, and the only chance we have is to slow the herd growth. Each time a mare foals on the range, it is in danger of being rounded up and incarcerated at a BLM holding facility. I would hardly call that an upper hand in the PZP debate.

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    1. I believe that we need to have an outside aerial count of the wild horse and burros before any other conversations take place..think that is key…because maybe the remaining horses and burros are so low, this whole point is mute..how do we get that done is what I think is important to figure out.

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      1. With pictures, Joanne, and video. The Bureau has, for far too long, made ridiculous ‘estimates’ that go against what removals have proven and the biological capabilities of wild horses and burros to reproduce.
        If this ‘program’ is to ever have any merit, we need more than guesswork and assumption. We need these populations to be as accurate as possible, with visual documentation, whether from BLM or citizen advocates.
        Advocates who go to court for these animals must provide viable & irrefutable proof of the basis for their cases; how is it the Bureau isn’t held to the same standard?
        FIRST – show the Public a visual record of these herd populations. THEN maybe we can talk about whether PZP is a necessity – or just another excuse.

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