Tag Archives: pzp

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.


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

• The Wild Horse Conspiracy; Craig Downer

Vet seeks reproductive alternative to cull of Alberta wild horses

KATHRYN McMACKIN reporting for the Cochrane Eagle reports:

“As the debate continues surrounding the government-appointed wild horse cull in Alberta, one veterinarian has been researching a more sustainable solution to manage the free-ranging horse population: a safe method of contraception.

“Dr. Judith Samson-French is no stranger to utilizing contraception as a management tool — she’s used it for years to control the feral dog population on First Nations communities. Through the Dogs With No Names project, she’s found success by administering a contraceptive implant in female dogs that renders them infertile.

“A similar method can be used for wild horses, she said.

“Jay Kirkpatrick is the director of the Science and Conservation Centre at ZooMontana in Billings, Mont. The centre develops and distributes wildlife contraceptives — including porcine zona pellucida (PZP).

“Kirkpatrick said the PZP injection has been used, with much success, in horses for 27 years.

    ‘The beauty of this particular contraceptive is that it doesn’t disrupt cycling or the horses’ behaviours, which is very important for the herd,” said Kirkpatrick. “It’s the only known contraceptive that does not interfere with the endocrine system.’ ”

Where have we heard this before? Oh, yes. The US Department of Interior agency, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), also favors this method, so they say.

The very big problem is that the BLM has promised time and again over the years that this reproductive alternative – darting wild mares with the PZP contraceptive – would be done in place of roundups. That has not happened.

Instead the BLM reportedly has been using contraceptives in addition to the aggressive roundups of thousands of wild horses decimating and in some cases eliminating entire herds, leaving empty herd management areas on public lands for federally contracted ranchers to graze their cattle, mining companies to mine, pipeline companies to lay pipeline . . . and so on it goes.

So dear citizens of Canada, we recommend you take a very hard look at what is happening in the US before you jump on the contraceptive bandwagon for wild horse population control. You may find that this “reproductive alternative” will continue along with the culls, not in place of them.

By the way, if you look up the definition of cull, it says:

1. a selective slaughter of wild animals; 2. reduce the population of (a wild animal) by selective slaughter; and 3. send (an inferior or surplus animal on a farm) to be slaughtered.

At the end of McMackin’s report she states:

“Wild horse capture permits began being distributed by the province mid-January. Once captured, the horses become property of the licence holder, who may keep or sell the horses”.

McMackin does not mention the grisly prospect that can easily occur with the sale of these horses, namely slaughter.

McMackin ends with the quote:

“‘The government is running out of options for these horses,” said Samson-French.'”

Ah, yes.

Featured image from Tooth and Claw Photography. See more >>

NAS pans current BLM Mustang management

Cross-posted from TheHorse.com


Mare and foal at the Palomino Valley National Wild Horse and Burro Center north of Sparks, Nevada. Photo by Stan White/BLM Nevada.
Mare and foal at the Palomino Valley National Wild Horse and Burro Center north of Sparks, Nevada. Photo by Stan White/BLM Nevada.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) should rely more on contraception than on roundups to effectively manage wild horse herds, according to study results released this week.

The National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council (NAS/NRC) is an independent nonprofit group that advises government agencies on scientific issues. In 2010 the BLM asked NAS to review technical aspects of their wild horse and burro program, including science-based population estimation methods, annual herd growth rates, and population control measures. The BLM also asked the group to make recommendations for future wild horse and burro management techniques. The $1.5 million study began in 2011 and the results were released June 5.

In its report, the NAS said the population of wild horses under BLM care on public rangelands in Western states increases at an unsustainable rate of 15% to 20% annually.

In its report, the NAS said the population of wild horses under BLM care on public rangelands in Western states increases at an unsustainable rate of 15% to 20% annually. In managing its herds, the BLM has estimated the ideal number of horses each range can support, then reduced herd populations to meet that estimate by gathering and removing horses from the range. But according to the NAS report, the BLM has not used scientifically rigorous methods to estimate the horse and burro populations on each range or to model the effects of management actions on the animals under BLM care. The report said that the current methodology the agency uses also fails to assess the availability and use of forage on rangelands the animals occupy.

In addition, the report said the BLM fails to effectively use contraception tools—specifically porcine zona pellucida vaccines for mares and a chemical vasectomy vaccine in stallions—to achieve appropriate wild horse and burro population control. The report said that conclusion was based on delivery method, availability, efficacy, duration of effect, and the potential for side effects. Read full article >>