EPA should reconsider wild horse birth control, judge rules

By MATEUSZ PERKOWSKI reporting for the Capital Press

(April 7, 2020) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unlawfully rejected an animal rights group’s request to consider banning a horse birth control drug, according to a federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Michael Simon has ruled the EPA violated administrative law with its “arbitrary and capricious” decision not to conduct a special review of porcine zona pellucida, or PZP, which is used to control wild horse populations on federal lands.

However, while the EPA must reconsider its denial of a petition from the Friends of Animals nonprofit, the judge will not require the agency to suspend PZP’s registration as a pesticide, which would have halted its usage.

Though the ruling doesn’t stop PZP usage, Friends of Animals considers the decision “a big win” because the judge has effectively said the EPA must take the group’s allegations seriously, said Michael Ray Harris, the nonprofit’s attorney.

“He’s telling them there’s enough evidence here that they can’t just blow it off,” Harris said. “Whenever you get an opinion like this, it means you’ve got evidence.”

The judge would not have sent the matter back to EPA for reconsideration just to waste taxpayer dollars, so the agency won’t likely want to get “hammered” in court again for disregarding new evidence about PZP, he said.

Federal managers could also discourage the killing of predators, especially cougars, which would then control wild horse populations while curbing overgrazing and overbreeding, he added. Read more »

Also take note of this from the 3/31/20 article entitled “FoA’s victory forces EPA to consider new PZP research” where it states:

Information is now available to the EPA regarding the unintended—and previously undisclosed—side effects on both targeted mares and wild horses in general. It not only shows unreasonable adverse effects, but also indicates the use of PZP on wild horses likely violates the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971.

“We fully believe the research is legitimate, and therefore the use of PZP on wild horses is likely illegal under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA),” Harris added.

When the HSUS applied to EPA to register PZP, the organization was so excited that PZP was effective at preventing pregnancy in mares that it failed to evaluate whether the forced drugging of horses could negatively impact individual animals or the herd. Indeed, most of the research submitted by HSUS was published by the late Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick, a veterinarian who manufactured PZP, and who never studied the biological, social and behavioral effects the drug can have on wild horses. Keep reading at FoA’s website »

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Featured Image: Mustangs on South Steens by Kathleen Bishop. Available at Fine Art America. Not filed with this story.

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