Will There Be a Healthy Future for America’s Wild Horses and Burros IN THE WILD?

PM Helicopter Mustang Roundup

(Roundup to administer Pesticide PZP for experiments)

PZP or Reserve Design? You Decide

By Craig C. Downer, Wildlife Ecologist, Wild Horse and Burro Fund

September 24th, 2016

On September 7th, 2016, I participated in the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board rangeland tour of the Antelope Valley Wild Horse Herd Management Area (HMA); and on September 8th, I again participated in this board’s official meeting at the historical Stockman’s Hotel in Elko, Nevada. Though both tour and meeting provided for some public input, these were “one slick operation” by BLM officials and certain members of the board. This event aimed to convince all board members as well as the public of a “wild horse overpopulation crisis” with a pre-meditated selection of sites to visit and points to make. And I can well understand why a person with little knowledge and background on wild horse and public lands issues or with a pre-existing selfish agenda could be easily stampeded into accepting the over-population myth.

Indeed, on Friday, September 9th, the board voted 8 to 1 to recommend disposal of ca. 44,000 wild horses and burros currently in holding throughout the United States. If accepted by the BLM, such a recommendation would result in the cruel killing of most of these national heritage animals.

Being all too aware of how wild horses and burros have been set up to fail, all too aware of how they have been used as scapegoats for ecological problems that overpopulated humans have basically caused, I was relieved that BLM officials did not – at least for now – accept their appointed board’s advice. I was also pleased to learn that BLM recently cancelled certain surgical sterilization experiments on over 200 captured wild mares in Oregon and others in Wyoming for which over $11 million dollars had been allocated.
The board’s recommendation would have been tantamount to murdering nearly all of the 44 thousand horses and burros in holding. This proposed bloodbath created an enormous national and international outcry, becoming a global bone of contention. And I find it heartening to see evidence that so many people care about the wild ones and their right to live freely and naturally.

Horses and their burro cousins are highly-evolved beings, fellow sojourners on planet Earth, companions who have lived and labored alongside us humans for many generations –even several millennia! What horses and humans have experienced together concerning Life’s unfolding story is truly awesome! Could this be why the cavalier disposal of the lives of so many horse souls rankles so deeply and with so many?

Today a great moral challenge stridently calls for us humans to more fairly and justly treat our fellow inhabitants of planet Earth. We must give these fellow conscious beings the life they deserve for a change! In the case at hand, horses present highly evolved beings present here on Earth for millions of years of free and natural living, often in wide-open spaces. In diverse ecosystems, they have developed intricate relationships with an astounding diversity of plants and animals and in a way that is truly splendid. As an ecologist, I realize that they are mutually complemental to the other species of fauna and flora. And that they are extraordinarily beautiful should give us some clue as to why they are pleasing to Heaven.

Such realizations occurred to those who established the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (WFHBA). This was one of the first times Americans decided to do something major that was genuinely good for a fellow species. And it defied centuries, even millennia, of human self-absorption, thoughtlessness, cruelty and greed. For rather than merely continuing to take from, we humans actually chose to give back to horse kind something of true worth and excellence: their natural freedom to live on their rightful natural land, or home. In other words, to be themselves!

Along with the Wilderness and similar acts, the WFHBA was a “great forward leap for mankind.” Yet, an “all-points bulletin” today concerns our government’s emerging plans for America’s last remaining wild horses and burros. As a wildlife ecologist and even more as a human being who appreciates horses in the wild, I perceive their enemies not only among those traditionally opposed to them, but in our very government and even among people who claim to be wild horse advocates yet who are quick to overly compromise the future of these wild horses and burros as naturally living Earthlings! Why are the latter buckling under to the wild horses’ and burros’ traditional detractors and enemies? It seems that they are being duped into conceding to plans that will only ensure the decline of the wild herds? Many of us believe that this pusillanimous position must not pass! (No pasara! as we speakers of Spanish say.)

Core to what’s wrong are the so-called “Appropriate Management Levels” (AMLs) that have been assigned to the legal wild horse and wild burro herds on their legal lands throughout the West, both on BLM and US Forest Service lands. And along with these, the failure to fairly allocate natural resources for truly viable populations. These AMLs are simply much too low! They are genetically non-viable and would result in under-populated herds.

Any group of creatures that senses itself to be underpopulated usually “struggles to survive,” as Charles Darwin so aptly stated. Herd numbers as well as the locations and sizes of Herd Management Areas (HMAs) have been too arbitrarily set to fit the demands of cattle and sheep ranchers, big mining corporations, expansion-hooked land developers, ORV rippers up of the land, and the kill-focused hunting establishment. As is so typical, the root of the problem lies with that thoughtlessness and greed that infects too many humans today. The consequence has been many millions of acres of zeroed-out, though still legal, herd areas, and herd sizes and the sizes and habitat composition of HMAs (BLM) and Territories (US Forest Service) that are simply not adequate to the long-term survival needs of those wild horses and burros who still remain. To my very bones I feel that we humans must rise to the great moral challenge concerning the horses and burros and their right to live free. And this also has to do with our own success as a species, for it concerns obeying the laws of Higher Justice that govern the universe.

Truly realizing and living the noble intent of the WFHBA will make America great again, allow it to stand uprightly on solid moral ground. We shall learn to share the land and freedom with the wild ones, and this lesson shall be our salvation. We shall no longer restrict and exploit such “paragons of Nature” as the horses and their rightful lands in such a way that denies them their true place in the world we share with them as home. Today we have arrived at a crucial crossroad, a critical turning point:

Faulty PZP-type Choice for America’s Wild Horses and Burros

Shall we only continue to restrict and distort the true natures of the horses and burros and to ever greater degrees, as well as their proper habitats here on Earth? Shall we only continue to deny them genuine freedom here on Earth by condoning marginally productive, water-deprived, and un-whole habitats that have been carelessly and deviously assigned for them? Shall we be cornered into accepting the application of harmful, FDA-classified pesticides such as Porcine Zona Pelucida, or PZP, GonaCon, SpayVac, etc.?

These drugs, vaccines, inhibitors of healthy horses – call them what you like – only distort and suppress the true health and well-being of vigorous wild horses and burros! And then do we expect the wild horses and burros so violated to fit into unfairly small and inadequate habitats that do not provide their long-term survival needs? No! Such marginal habitats, substandard population numbers, and biologically compromised individuals are simply unacceptable! They would not be genetically viable and would only set the horses and burros up for inbreeding suppression while at the same time preventing their filling their ecological niches in a harmoniously adapted way. And these animals already face enough survival challenges without having to deal with the violation of their most intimate parts!

Is PZP really a solution that works for the horses/burros?

I have participated in many wild horse and burro meetings and heard talks given by experts describing PZP and its actions on wild horses, including by PZP’s inventor Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick and by Dr. Daniel Rubenstein, a behavioral zoologist who has studied PZPed wild horses in nature. I have also perused many scientific and popular articles about the effects of PZP upon wild horses, both short- and long-term, and both upon individuals and their social groups.

Here are some of the major proven damages to wild horses caused by PZP:

(1) PZP weakens immune systems of individuals and their herds since it inhibits reproduction in horses with stronger immune systems. Horses with weaker immune systems are precisely those who reproduce in greater numbers in PZP-treated herds. Eventually, PZP weakens wild horse herds’ overall immune systems. (Reference: Gray, M.E. & Cameron, E.Z. 2010. Does contraceptive treatment in wildlife result in side effects? Reproduction 139: 45-55.)

(2) Increased stress is experienced by mares who have been successfully darted by PZP and by other members of their social bands. This is because of PZPed mares’ frustration in completing their natural reproductive cycle, which affects the other members of their bands. Ironically, it is precisely the mature and stable, more content and non-PZPed bands that do, in fact, cause a slowing of reproductive rates, as years of research by the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros (ISPMB) and others abundantly proves. (Reference: Sussman, Karen. 6/6/2015. Suspicious deaths with use of anti-fertility drugs. ISPMB Journal. www.ispmb.org/BirthControlDeaths.html.)

(3) PZP adversely affects mares’ hormonal systems and consequently the social groups to which they belong. PZPed mares become irritable, aggressive, and more masculine, causing disharmony in their bands. PZP lowers estrogen and increases testosterone in mares and also produces ovarian cysts. Cysts increase testosterone levels. (Reference: U.S. National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health. Ovarian overproduction of androgens. (Reference: https://www.nim.nih.gov/medicineplus/ency/article/001165.htm.)

(4) Auto-immune oophoritis, aka ovaritis or inflammation of ovaries, and also stillbirths result from PZP. Autoimmune oophoritis can lead to the development of other autoimmune diseases. (Reference: Kaur, K. & Prabha, V. 2014. Immunocontraceptives: New Approaches to Fertility Control. BioMed Research International, Vol. 2014, Article ID: 868196.)

(5) PZP-darted herds in Little Book Cliffs, McCullough Peaks, and Pryor Mountains wild horse legal herd management areas gave birth nearly year-round, i.e. 341 days, rather than in the normal spring season. This exposed PZPed wild mares and their offspring to extremes of temperature, and, consequently, to suffering and death. (Reference: Ransom, J.I. et al. 2013. Contraception Can Lead to Trophic Asynchrony between Birth Pulse and Resources. PLoS ONE 8(1): e54972. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054972.

(6) It is quite disturbing that PZP antibodies transfer to foals from the mare through the placenta while they are in the womb as well as through mare’s milk. These antibodies react with and bind to the zona pellucida of female newborns. Yet, BLM regularly administers PZP to pregnant and lactating mares in spite of these published scientific findings. (Reference: Sacco, A.G. et al. 1981. Passage of zona antibodies via placenta and milk following active immunization of female mice with porcine zonae pellucidae. Journal of Reproductive Immunology. 1981, December; Vol 3, Issue 6: pages 313-322.)

(7) Weakening of immune system subjects wild horses to mal-adaptiveness to unforeseen major changes such as are occurring due to Global Warming, or catastrophes such as epidemics or wildfires. (Reference: Gray & Cameron, 2010, op cit.)

(8) PZP causes the immune system to attack and destroy the ovaries and produces a large variety of adverse effects. (References: Gray & Cameron, 2010, op cit.; Kaur & Prabha, 2014, op. cit.)

(9) By extending the lifespans of PZPed mares, PZP creates abnormal numbers of aged, sterile mares. This disadvantages younger horses, who continue to be taken away by BLM roundups to reach arbitrary AMLs. This appeases livestock or other wild-horse-adverse interests on the public lands, rather than respecting the General Public, whose majority values wild horses and burros and wants them to be fairly treated. (Reference: Knight, C.M. & Rubenstein, D.I. 2014. The Effects of Porcine Zona Pellucida Immunocontraception on Health and Behavior of Feral Horses (Equus caballus). Princeton University thesis, Dept. Ecology & Evolutionary Biology.)

(10) PZPed mares are no longer reproductively active in the wild horse population, thus diminishing the genetic viability of the herd. The resources they consume would otherwise contribute to reproducing adults and their offspring and maintain the vigor of the herd into ongoing future generations that adapt to ongoing environmental changes, thus assuring their long-term survival. (Reference: Ransom, J.I. et al. 2013, op. cit.)

(11) PZP is a safety hazard to humans, especially to females who administer it. (Reference: Devlin, M. and Protect Mustangs 2015. Fact Sheet: The Truth about PZP. http://protectmustangs.org/?p=8749.)

For these and related reasons, I believe that PZP will seriously harm and undermine the vigor of wild horse and burro populations that our nation’s laws mandate us to protect and preserve, as well as to manage. The restoration and maintenance of herd vigor is essential to the ongoing ecological adaptation and long-term survival of each herd. Healthy reproduction is key to healthy wild horse and burro individuals, bands and herds. Tampering with reproduction produces a variety of aberrations that lead to dysfunctional and disordered wild horses. This results in a decline of the herds.

I have heard from many people who closely observe and/or live near wild horses treated with PZP. They describe many still-born or defective foals produced by mares in whom the effects of PZP have worn off, permitting them to again try to reproduce. Also please consider that after a few to several years of yearly application, PZP generally produces total sterility in mares, depending upon the strength of their individual immune systems. This calls into serious question the proclaimed “reversibility of PZP” to enable mares to reproduce again! To reiterate: of great concern is the fact that PZP is less effective in those mares with weakened immune systems. Hence, the wide-spread use of PZP among America’s last wild horse/burro herds – nearly all below minimum viable population (MVP) level – will seriously undermine their long term survival.

But thankfully there exists an honorable alternative to PZP, and similar horse-disrespectful “quick fixes”. As a wildlife ecologist, I have formulated a sound alternative to PZP and similar invasive proposals. This Reserve Design strategy would restore long-term viable, ecologically well-adapted, and naturally self-stabilizing populations of wild horses and burros throughout the West. (References concerning Reserve Design: Peck, S. 1998. Reserve Design. In: Planning for Biodiversity: Issues and Examples. Island Press, Washington, D.C. Pages 89-114; Soule, M.E. & Terborgh, J. 1999. Continental Conservation: Scientific Foundations of Regional Reserve Networks. Island Press, Washington, D.C.; Downer, C.C. 2010. Proposal for wild horse/burro reserve design as a solution to present crisis. Natural Horse Volume 12, Issue 5, pages 26 to 27; Downer, C.C. 2014. The Wild Horse Conspiracy, www.amazon.com/dp/1461068983, look up “Reserve Design” in Index.)

Reserve Design: the Intelligent and Caring Choice for America’s Wild Horses and Burros

If followed correctly, the unanimously passed WFHBA would have set aside somewhere between 54 million and 90 million acres for the preservation of wild horses and burros in the wild. Lamentably, the rights of these animals—and their human supporters—have been undermined by wild horse and burro enemies, including officials charged with their protection. Current policies toward these “national heritage species” are thinly disguised plans for reducing the herds to cripplingly low, non-viable population numbers. These levels would be unable to sufficiently and adequately reproduce so as to survive into the long-term future. Too often the plan has been to simply eliminate them from their legal areas, i.e. “zero-out”. Indeed, anywhere from 22 million to 40 or more million legal acres have been declared officially empty and “not for” the wild horses and burros or simply ignored at the onset of the WFHBA in the early years of this act (see Downer, C.C. 2014. The Wild Horse Conspiracy).

Some wild horse advocates and observers say there are only 33,000 wild horses and burros remaining on America’s public lands as independently estimated for mid-2016 (Louise, Katia, wild horse documentary filmmaker, pers. comm.). Even if the official BLM figure of 67,027 wild horse and burros remain on the public lands (55,311 horses & 11,716 burros [BLM report of March 1, 2016]), either level would be out of step with the amount of ecologically appropriate habitat where these animals have a legal right to live. The small number of horses and burros our government intends to leave on each of the ca. 179 remaining BLM-designated areas is a sure prescription for the over-fragmentation and isolation of wild horse/burro populations. This would only jeopardize their long-term survival, compromising their true vigor in the wild.

The nationwide population of wild horses and burros that our government plans to allow as the high end Appropriate Management Level is only 26,715. This would be composed of only 1,676 individual wild horses and/or burros in Arizona; 2,200 in California, 812 in Colorado, 617 in Idaho, 120 in Montana, 12,811 in Nevada, 83 in New Mexico, 2,715 in Oregon, 1,956 in Utah, and 3,725 in Wyoming. (Source: Herd Area and Herd Management Area Statistics as of March 1, 2016. BLM, Washington, D.C.) These assigned population levels are very unfair and cater to wild horse and burro detractors while largely disregarding the General Public that are strongly support this Quality of Life issue.

Our government’s current goal of and plans for drastically reducing small and genetically vulnerable wild herds include the partial—and very possibly total—sterilization of mares through PZP injection. These plans also include the unnatural skewing of sex ratios to establish excess males, even in the naturally harem social structure of naturally living horses in which females are usually more numerous. And even more invasive measures have been planned in the past and are likely to crop up again, including painful—often lethal castration of stallions and the ovariectomies (removal of ovaries) of mares (thankfully recently cancelled in Oregon and Wyoming), as well as the individually deranging and socially disruptive injection of sterilization drugs or vaccines, such as PZP.

Clearly, our wild horses and burros are in a very critical situation today. I judge them to be more imperiled than they were in 1971 just before the passage of the WFHBA when they were “fast disappearing from the American scene”—and I used to work with Wild Horse Annie. We must quickly respond with a well-conceived plan for reforms that will restore the true rights of wild horses and burros upon our public lands. These lands belong to all Americans, not just to resource exploiters, whether officials of corporations or private individuals. As a wildlife ecologist and deeply rooted native Nevadan personally familiar with many of the West’s wild horse and burro herds, I strongly urge the restoration of these deeply rooted North American native species. Their return to North America should be as genetically viable and naturally self-stabilizing herds that are allowed too adapt ecologically to each specific region where they have legal right. This can be accomplished by following the sound principles of Reserve Design. Such a plan would end cruel, disruptive roundups and reproductive manipulations – practices that mock the true intent of the 1971 WFHBA by causing untold suffering and death to these beautiful and highly evolved, sensitive, wise, and freedom-loving creatures.

Reserve Design combines ecological, biological, social, and political considerations in order to achieve desired results. Basically, it involves setting aside areas of complete year-round habitat where human intervention is buffered against and where natural processes are allowed to reestablish natural checks and balances. Reserve Design will achieve internal harmony for the diverse, yet interrelated, species living within each wild horse/burro-containing ecosystem.

Critical steps for realizing Reserve Design in wild horse and wild burro habitats are as follows:

[1] Properly identify the long-term survival requirements for viable equid population levels to be accommodated in each reserve. Our chief focus would be to promote wild horse/burro-containing ecosystems of adequate size and condition to sustain viable equid populations and where plant and animal species are allowed to adapt naturally over the generations and in inter-balanced fashion. The level of 2,500 individual has been recommended for the viability of an equid population by the IUCN SSC Equid Survival Group (Equid Action Plan, IUCN SSC ESG, 1992).

[2] Conscientiously identify appropriate ecological areas suitable for the implementation of wild horse/burro-containing reserves. This would involve travel to, on-ground inspection of, flights over, and GIS analysis of a wide variety of places throughout the West. This would also entail setting up Cooperative Agreements under Sections 4 and 6 of the WFHBA in order to achieve complete habitats around the federally designated wild equid lands and involving both private and other government lands such as state and local.

[3] Wherever possible, wisely incorporate natural equid predators (such as puma, bear, and wolf) that would both limit and tone/strengthen, wild horse and burro populations.

[4] Wherever possible, wisely incorporate natural barriers that would limit the ingress and/or the egress of certain species, including the wild horses and burros. This would avoid conflicts and set up conditions for the natural self-regulation of populations.

[5] Identify where buffer zones, artificial barriers, or other means of impeding movements in and out of a reserve should be established in order to keep the species in question from coming into conflict with humans. Buffer zones possibly involving non-injurious means of “adverse conditioning” could be employed as well as “positive reinforcement” as a means of encouraging the wild equids to stay within the reserve, as for example, by providing all of their habitat needs. Also, “semi-permeable barriers” that do not restrict most species but do prevent equids from passing out of the reserve may be used. These means would be described in practical detail and as tailored to fit each specific reserve area.

[6] Identify the presence and abundance of necessary food, water, shelter, mineral procurement sites, elevation gradients for seasonal migrations, etc., that will accommodate the long-term habitat needs of long-term viable wild equid populations. Such will also allow the natural rest-rotation of foraging between the natural subdivisions of the reserve. Fences within the reserve that impede the free-roaming lifestyle of the wild equids will be located and their removal accomplished. The intrinsic Carrying Capacity of the land in question will also be estimated as closely as possible. Such will be based upon the Productivity of forage adequate to at least a minimally viable population of wild horses/burros. Besides food, this determination will take into account other survival factors such as water, minerals, shelter, breeding and nurturing habitat, seasonal migrations, and needed protection from existing threats to the wild equids.

[7] Identify geographical regions whose human inhabitants are benignly disposed toward the creation and long-term implementation of extensive, ecologically balanced wild horse/burro-containing reserves. This would involve traveling to different areas and setting up meetings with pertinent individuals, town and government officials, etc. This also relates to the setting up of Cooperative Agreements under Sections 4 and 6 of the WFHBA, as mentioned above.

[8] Identify ways of and benefits from implementing Reserve Design that result in win-win relationships centered on the presence of wild horses and burros. Ecotourism is one major possibility here, and wild horse/burro viewing tours have already proven to be successful in several states, including Craig London’s tours to the Montgomery Pass wild horses of eastern California. Restoring native ecosystems, including soils and native species, would be a major ecological benefit. The reduction of flammable vegetation through equid grazing and the restoration of hydrographic basins through the enrichment of soils, would be other major, positive contributions by wild horses and burros. Another major benefit concerns the prevention of catastrophic wildfires that over-burn vegetation, sterilize soils and denature their stored seed banks. Such fires can set the life community back to very primitive evolutionary stages. Indeed, it can be strongly argued that the restoration of wild equids in North America is crucial to combating life-disrupting Global Warming itself.

[9] Of key importance is informing the public concerning the many ways that horses and burros, as ecological “climax” species, self-limit their own populations once their respective ecological niches are filled in any given bounded area. This knowledge is key to realizing a humane relationship with these animals, a relationship that does justice to and demonstrates respect for them. And it is this respect and appreciation on the part of us humans that is key to allowing the horses and burros to fulfill their important natural roles within the life community.

Whom to Contact to Help Wild Horses and Burros:

Please contact your Senators and Representatives, the President, the Secretary of Interior and its Bureau of Land Management; and the Secretary of Agriculture and its US Forest Service. Both of these agencies are mandated by the WFHBA to preserve and protect as well as to manage the wild horses and burros and their legal lands and resources for the benefit of the former.

Also contact your state governor and state, county, and municipal officials concerned with wildlife and natural resources. Get in touch with the media: newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations. Make all of the above aware of what is needed to stop the over-reduction or zeroing-out of the herds and the cruel abuse of wild horses and burros, whether through drugging, vaccines, surgeries, or other unnatural and invasive methods. Rather, persist in the restoration of the wild horse and burro herds and their habitats to viable levels, healthy conditions and sizes. This will be to restore the pure intent of the law.

A key committee to contact right away is the U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee, particularly its Interior, Environment & Related Agencies Subcommittee. The telephone number of the latter is (202) 225-3081. Emails of staff to contact are betsy.bina@mail.house.gov and Kristin.richmond@mail.house.gov. This subcommittee is now deciding which direction to take in regards to the wild horses and burros. It has been hearing too exclusively from traditional wild horse and burro enemies.

Those of us who value and appreciate the wild horses and burros and their rightful place in the world of nature must set the record straight for these wonderful and ancient presences on Earth. We must not allow their enemies or those ignorant of their worthiness prevail!

The spirited and intelligent horses and burros are depending on you and I!

In addition to contacting the above, be sure to contact the President of the United States and the White House staff at (202) 456-1111 (TTY/TTD: (202) 456-6213). Switchboard (202) 456-1414. You can also do this by email at http://www.whitehourse.gov/contact or president@whitehouse.gov.

You may contact your Senators and Congressmen/State Representatives (federal and state) by linking on internet with “Elected Officials / USA Gov”. This will provide you with the contacts you require for federal, state, and local offices. The link is: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials.

And in closing I urge you to contact the natural resource and public lands committee and subcommittee in the U.S. Senate.

On behalf of our wonderful wild horses and burros, I sincerely thank all of you for your caring and for your effective action.

Craig Downer


Wildlife Ecologist. A.B. UCB; M.S. UNR; Ph.D. Cand. U. Durham UK. Link to his article The Horse and Burro as Positively Contributed Returned Natives in North America is http://www.sciencepublishinggroup.com/journal/paperinfo.aspx?journalid=118&doi=10.11648/j.ajls.20140201.12 Website to check out is www.thewildhorseconspiracy.org in which the links to the article and how to order his book are present.

Also please consider signing this important petition to stop this massacre of the wild horses and burros from happening: The link to this petition is: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/907/592/301/demand-nokill-45000-wild-horses-burros-in-holding/

Wild Horses Biodiversity and Ecological Zones — Wild Horses Benefit Our Lands

“What needs to stop, is the bad decisions based on what Bureau of Land Management personnel knows to be misinformation, and even out right lies!  These items so plentiful, and now coming from non-profits with conflicts of interest as well, and cannot be used to make further decisions upon and about the Wild Horses on our Public Lands. We need to demand truth!  And with the truth,, good science, good data, and those with the knowledge to understand the data and research statistics, only then can we make good reasonable decisions about the Wild Horses, and placing them back onto our Public Lands.  Time for the Special Interests and welfare ranchers to go, as they are all unnecessary as well as not needed there what so ever.”  — John Cox, The Cascades

When we discuss the Loss of biodiversity within Ecological Zones, we are discussing, with evidence we see first-hand combined with a thorough knowledge of history, a Reality. . . The 48% Overkill, or mass extinction of species, has become devastating – the reality becoming even worse within our wilderness environment. But less recognized is loss of biodiversity at the Ecological Zone or entire ecosystem level, which occurs when distinct habitats, species assemblages, and natural processes are diminished or degraded in quality.Federal Lands

America’s broken Wildlife Management System, based upon ignorance, fear, and obvious agenda-driven bad science, apparently assumes everything is okay in our wilds and with our wildlife – but it is not, and has not been for quite some time now . . . America is being invaded, not by another country, but that of mind-set = of blatant Ignorance and Illusory Perceptions of knowledge based on nothing more than ignorance or false premise.

Our Public Lands and other Federal Lands, currently, are experiencing the highest rates of species extinction in America’s history. However, biodiversity is being lost more widely than just on these lands. Habitats, such as freshwater-zones, desert and forested Public Lands, and old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest, to name but four, are being destroyed very aggressively, with much ignorance and from government agencies, with total destruction eminent much sooner than perceived previously.

With this in mind, we stand to lose a far greater proportion of species (lands incapable of supporting these species due to interference from human’s), inclusive of America’s Wild Horses as well, within areas designated as cattle grazing permit zones, or areas settled and exploited within other activities by humans – both (i.e. due to ignorance and lack of positive driven actions) the causation and not the cure. The loss of biodiversity at the ecosystem levels, i.e. Ecological Zones Levels, have been greatest there so far, extreme in devastation.

Inward Perspective of Ecological Zones

Ecosystems can be lost, or tragically compromised, in basically two ways. The most obvious kind of loss is quantitative–the conversion of a native prairie to a cattle grazing allotment situation on Public Lands or on Forestry Lands, or just as extreme, construction of buildings or to a parking lot or oil exploration, et al. Quantitative losses, in principle, can be measured easily by a decline in areal extent of a discrete ecosystem type (i.e., one that can be mapped).

The second kind of loss is qualitative and involves a change or degradation in the structure, function, or composition of an ecosystem. At some level of degradation, an ecosystem ceases to be natural. For example, a ponderosa pine (e.g. Pinus ponderosa within the Klamath Basin) forest may be compromised by removing the largest, healthiest, and frequently, the genetically superior trees; a sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) steppe may be grazed so heavily that native perennial grasses are replaced by exotic annuals (becoming firestorm hazards); or a stream may become dominated by trophic generalist and exotic fishes (e.g. as cattle grazing those lands wreaked havoc with the indigenous species, which disappeared, and exotics simply invaded and took over, i.e. Murderer’s Creek for a good factual and data driven example).

Qualitative changes may be expressed quantitatively, for instance, by reporting that 99% of the sagebrush steppe is affected by livestock grazing, but such estimates are usually less precise than estimates of habitat conversion. In some cases, as in the conversion of an old-growth forest to a BLM grazing permit allotment, the qualitative changes in structure and function are sufficiently severe to qualify as outright habitat loss. Then the awkward question becomes, “How many of these habitat losses can we handle before the collapse of an entire Ecological System devastates the entire environmental complex?heavenly-pit

Frankly, within this modern age of information outlets, we have achieved several negative situations of a nature not so attractive, nor to take pride within, what so ever. Yes, ignorance and stupidity often questions good science, and moronic confusion follows. Often, ironically within this information age, political decisions, for example, sometimes based on outright lies, and the only credible situation that exists, well, no credibility what so ever for the decision at all.

In Oregon a Law was passed three years ago, that gives Rights to legislators to “Lie” about the facts and science in matters of passing Bills / Laws for the state. This year the wolves in the State of Oregon were Delisted from the Endangered Species List, due to falsification and lies about science, about the ESL itself, and lies in the matter of “facts-given” within the ratios of wolf-caused cattle attacks (less-kills by wolves a reality when compared to the facts given to other legislators on this subject material) – the cattle industry very questionable within integrity these days also, with no apparent credibility what so ever.

Ecological Zones and Destructive Invasive Situations

Conifer forests that are inner-dependent on circumstances from good management paradigms, e.g. fire suppression, notably ponderosa pine in the Cascade Mountain Range, have declined not only from logging, but also from invasion of non-indigenous animals, for example, by cattle and their obvious over-population. These kinds of change can cause the loss of a distinct Ecological Zone and entire ecosystem as surely as if the forest were clear-cut, which is also done for cattle – a very controversial situation indeed, but with BLM and Forestry, who remain overwhelmed with misinformation and lies and bad science, which is given to the public to cover-up the reality and destruction.

Ecological processes are also affected; widespread insect infestation and tree mortality east of the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest is blamed largely on past fire suppression, mostly by government sources. Then we look at other realities, specifically, cattle and their over-population once again.

One of the best examples is the Sage Grouse (and the supposed inter-cooperative agreements between welfare ranchers on Public Lands and Forestry Lands and the Department of the Interior (with BLM as the management portion, or mismanagement as many speak of the program itself, quite obvious to most, and costing taxpayers millions but based upon a false premise) –

The Reality: cattle hooves stomp the grasses that the Sage Grouse live within for shelter and to hide form their natural enemies, as they are a food source for many wildlife species, and the reason why they are endangered. Soon the Sage Grouse unprotected – and cattle-presence also attracts crows, and crows favorite food source? Yup, Sage Grouse. BLM’s response? “Let’s kill all the Crows. Government incompetence? Or, government imposes special interest favors, special agendas due to lobby groups, upon taxpayer’s dollars, and toward welfare ranchers – all guided by misinformation and false premise to conduct the travesty, or, the destruction of more Ecological Zones? The facts do not lie – although, in this case especially (one of many more) government personnel and welfare ranchers do lie.

Invasion and Destruction of Ecological Zones / Saving them

So what is it, logically and knowledgably, we discuss in the matters of Ecological Zones or overall ecosystem decline. Through research we find that the most endangered ecosystems are typically at low elevations and have fertile soils, amiable climates, easy terrains, abundant natural resources, and other factors that encourage human settlement, but worse yet, exploitation.

The Great Plains, for example, and here in Oregon, is a vast sagebrush steppe of the Intermountain West that is in many areas overgrazed by cattle, with a very noticeable over-population of cattle present almost year around. Regional studies of ecosystem status should address the many potential causes of biotic impoverishment to devise effective conservation and restoration strategies – but when cattle involved, reality-conservation paradigms are not discussed at all within our current government management agencies. Why? History (sound research and data gathering as well) shows us that Buffalo did not migrate over large parts of the Great Basin way back when, due to the shelf-crust to thin, which also exists today. Mother Nature at work with the Buffalo, much wiser than our human species, obviously. So cattle roam, and are very destructive on the thin crust of lands within the basin areas.

The functional ideology, or paradigms, favoring the growth of Ecological Systems, is to save species by protecting samples of the entire ecosystems themselves. This can be tested very easily, although not done so by current management agencies — and by determining whether declines of ecosystem types have been accompanied by declines and extinctions of species that depend on or are associated with those ecosystems. What many of us are finding, who are in the field all the time, is overwhelming indeed, and quite obvious.

The fact is – many species are being eliminated by the Bureau of Land Management and due to incompetence as well as blatant ignorance of Ecological-Factors, Wildlife Services, and welfare ranching combined – and one of the primary developing factors of the current 48% Over-Kill of America’s Wildlife, which destroys Ecological Systems, as well.


With a thorough investigation of facts, not of misinformation nor bias toward or favoring any group of facts over another due to special interests, we then conclude that the conservation of entire Ecological Zones/ecosystems, rather than recovery/sustaining of individual species of non-indigenous animals, becomes of paramount priority. Preservation of entire communities requires truthful and sound habitat management based on good science, nothing left out, or added, to favor special interests, and the ability to ascertain or understand the research material and good data recovery, to generate sound management paradigms and decisions. This we find is superior over isolation of certain recovery favored recovery areas.

Due to good data collection, as well as a good understanding and breaking down the data to an informative type of statistics, myself and others find that placing Wild Horses back onto their legitimate, and Legal by Law homelands, is good for all of the Ecological Systems that would make up the ecosystem landscape within its entirety.

john cams and vids maps tableThis also provides for the removal of the actual destructive elements, the non-indigenous cattle – for example, and allow the lands where previous grazing permits did exist, to replenish itself back to its natural habitat of a healthy Ecological system for its inhabitants – and that includes the human species as well. Obtaining a natural wilderness area is far superior, when compared to irresponsible management paradigms that specify a one-person or corporation more important than the taxpayer or American paradigm (nor certainly not of Constitutional grounds) and neglecting all others who are involved, and who pay for it; which, in truth remains environmental-complex areas, entire ecosystems, for use by Special Interests only.

We can no longer afford the Bureau of Land Management statistics that are untrue, for example: the misinformed and lacking information of a 20% growth rate of wild horses, when there are no other situations considered, such as death of wild horses at 18% to 24%, and the birth rates that show beyond a doubt that in the wilds it exists in reality at 51% to a high of +/- 64% undebatable statistics.

We cannot any longer, as well, consider the welfare ranching paradigm as a doable, nor positive situation on America’s Public Lands and within America’s Forests, as it is too destructive to all Ecological Zones and wildlife. And when we consider the actual facts: the less than 1% of sales domestically (DOI/USDAS/GAO Reports) from commercial markets of beef sales receipts; the 34% throw away of commercial beef from non-sales in markets yearly (USDA/GAO reports), and the tremendous amount of activity toward the 48% Over-Kill of America’s wildlife directly related to welfare ranching on Public Lands and Forestry areas — then our conclusion is easily developed by sound reasoning and common sense, also through good science, data gathering, statistics, and facts – welfare ranching is entirely unacceptable as well as unneeded on America’s Federal Lands — entirely.

What one will also discover, is those of us who have no Conflict of Interests, demand that Wild Horses be placed back onto their homelands, and to be allowed to let nature takes its course, and humans, with their bad management and incompetent behaviors, who have wreaked havoc enough within our natural areas and wilderness areas alike. We allow the facts to speak for us, not special interests nor greed, nor conflict of interest!

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Cross-posted from John Cox http://bit.ly/2csth5p

Secret documents from 2008 reveal plan to kill and dispose of America’s wild horses and burros

© 2014 Anne Novak, all rights reserved.

© 2014 Anne Novak, all rights reserved.

 The Bureau of Land Management plots to wipe out wild horses and burros at taxpayer expense.  Is this how you want your tax dollars used?

“Jim says Burns takes them to a pit but they have always used it  . . .”

Notice that Pesticide PZP, made from slaughterhouse pig ovaries, is part of their wipe out plan. It sterilizes after multiple use. Their goal is zero population increase which would ruin natural selection and make it impossible for the species to survive climate change.

Members of the public and some organizations have been fooled into supporting Pesticide PZP as the “lesser of two evils”. Those who believe in the true spirit of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 are attacked for speaking out against Pesticide PZP.

Follow the money if you want to understand who profits from forcibly drugging wild mares with Pesticide PZP for population control. . .

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is the registrant of Pesticide PZP https://www3.epa.gov/pesticides/chem_search/reg_actions/pending/fs_PC-176603_01-Jan-12.pdf. HSUS called native wild horses and burros “PESTS” on the EPA Pesticide Application. Have they changed the legal definition of wild horses and burros with the EPA application that should be revoked?

Scott Beckstead, who was born and raised on a working cattle ranch and now works for HSUS, reported at the BoLM’s Spring 2016 Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting that HSUS is experimenting on a stronger form of Pesticide PZP. Does “stronger” mean their new form of Pesticide PZP will forcibly sterilize native wild horses and burros with one injection?

Wild horses and burros are underpopulated on public land which is overpopulated by beef cattle and sheep. Ranchers, BoLM and others try to scapegoat wild horses and burros for range damage when the truth is commercial livestock is destroying, or already has destroyed, the ecosystem.

July 29, 2008











“GonaCon® is also a product that needs to be relooked at for sterilization of mares.” (Quoted from item 4 above)

Read about the GonaCon® experiment at Water Canyon that launched in 2015: http://protectmustangs.org/?p=8488 They have hopes to use GonaCon™ on the whole Antelope Complex.



August 12, 2008









PM Aerial Photo 6

Thanks to Jane Cheuvront for the Google Earth photo)

Read our August 11th blog post: What’s in the mounds, craters and pits at American wild horse holding facilities? http://protectmustangs.org/?p=9458

See all the notes from the secret conference calls in 2008 about killing off America’s wild horses and burros: pm-blm-secret-killing-conference-calls-2008



Special thanks to Dr. Patricia Haight, RIP, with the Conquistador Equine Rescue for acquiring the documents through FOIA.

See the draft of the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program Alternative Management Options from October 2008 the result of the secret conference calls: pm-blm-killing-plans


(Fred T. Woehl, Jr. and Sue McDonnell, PhD. for Wild Horse & Burro Research are some of the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board members, who voted on September 9, 2016, to kill the alleged “unadoptable” wild horses and burros)


Protect Mustangs is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of native and wild horses. www.ProtectMustangs.org

FACT SHEET: The Truth about PZP

PM PZP Dr liu



PZP — The Pesticide

Porcine zona pellucida (PZP aka ZonaStat-H or Native PZP) is an EPA-registered pesticide derived from the ovaries of slaughtered pigs. PZP is approved for use on wild horses “in areas where they have become a nuisance ….” [20]

Some persons argue that, because PZP does not kill the mare, it is not really a “pesticide.” Actually, PZP does kill. As will be documented in this report, its use is associated with stillborn foals. In the long term, PZP will weaken a herd immunologically, which could swiftly lead to its extinction. So, yes, PZP is a real pesticide.

PZP — an Anti-Vaccine

While touted as a “vaccine,” PZP is actually a perversion of what a true vaccine is supposed to be. Instead of preventing disease, PZP causes disease — auto-immune disease. Thus, PZP is an anti-vaccine.

PZP’s Mode of Action as Stated in the Pesticide Registration Is a Disproved Hypothesis

The registrant of PZP advised the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that, based on information from the pesticide’s researcher-manufacturer, PZP works by generating antibodies that “block sperm attachment.” This representation of PZP as a sort of chemical condom was not fact but merely an untested hypothesis, postulated three decades ago. The old hypothesis was disproved by subsequent research. PZP’s manufacturer knew, or should have known, this. The manufacturer should also have been informed and up-to-date regarding the side effects and unintended consequences of PZP. Yet, the manufacturer continued to cite the disproved hypothesis and to deny that PZP has any adverse effects. [7 and 13]

PZP’s True Mode-of-Action

So how does PZP really work? PZP tricks the immune system into waging war on the ovaries. In a meta-analysis of ZP-type contraceptives, Kaur & Prabha (2014) reported that the infertility brought on by such products is ” … a consequence of ovarian dystrophy rather than inhibition of sperm-oocyte interaction.” Thus, PZP’s antibodies “work” not by blocking sperm attachment but by destroying the ovaries. Kaur & Prabha further disclosed that ” … histological examination of ovaries of immunized animals revealed the presence of atretic follicles with degenerating oocytes.” [5] [Atretic follicles are ovarian follicles in an undeveloped state due to immaturity, poor nutrition or systemic disease; manifested by prolonged anestrus.]

Kaur & Prabha’s review concluded that PZP’s antibodies induce ovarian dystrophy, oophoritis (inflammation of the ovaries), destruction of oocytes in all growing follicles, and depletion of resting follicles. The manufacturer of PZP as well as Bureau of Land Management (BLM) should have been aware of these and other findings about the pesticide. Yet they ignored or disregarded any information that was contrary to their personally-preferred but obsolete and false description of PZP’s mode-of-action.

PZP Manufacturer’s Own Research Found Markedly Depressed Estrogen Secretion

In a telling study published back in 1992, the manufacturer of Native PZP, along with colleagues, reported that ” … three consecutive years of PZP treatment may interfere with normal ovarian function as shown by markedly depressed oestrogen secretion.” [6] Thus, despite all the hype about PZP being non-hormonal, the manufacturer knew that ZonaStat-H has an adverse hormonal effect, causing significantly-lowered estrogen. Thus, PZP is an endocrine disruptor. [21] The plummeting estrogen-levels may also reflect the ovarian dystrophy and oophoritis now known to be caused by PZP. Despite personally discovering negative hormonal impacts 23 years ago, PZP’s manufacturer continued to cite misinformation regarding the product’s mode-of-action and endocrine-disruptor side-effects.

PZP Causes Ovarian Cysts

In their 2010 meta-analysis, Gray & Cameron cited a number of studies that found ” … alterations to ovarian function, oophoritis, and cyst formation with PZP treatment (Mahi-Brown et al.1988, Sehgal et al. 1989, Rhim et al. 1992, Stoops et al. 2006, Curtis et al. 2007).” [4] These findings support those of Kaur & Prabha while introducing yet another adverse effect: ovarian cysts. Gray & Cameron’s review also noted that increased irritability, aggression, and masculine behavior had been observed in females following PZP-treatment.

PZP → Endocrine Disruptor → Elevated Testosterone → Masculinizing Effects

Recall that PZP has endocrine-disrupting effects that result in lowered estrogen. Per the observed masculine behavior of treated mares, PZP seems to have a testosterone-elevating effect too. A deficit of estrogen alone would not necessarily manifest in the masculinization of treated females, but an excess of testosterone would. So, it appears that PZP disrupts at least two hormones: estrogen — by substantially lowering it — and testosterone — by substantially elevating it. Adverse effect: Unnatural behavior.

PZP → Ovarian Cysts → Elevated Testosterone → Masculinizing Effects

As discussed above, PZP correlates with abnormal masculine behavior on the part of treated females, a side-effect likely due to elevated testosterone. But in addition to the endocrine-disruption caused by PZP, there could be a second way for testosterone levels to become elevated. Recall that PZP causes ovarian cysts. An Internet search on “ovarian cysts and testosterone” yielded results for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women. Interestingly, one of the symptoms of PCOS is high testosterone levels. [12 and 22] The connection between ovarian cysts and elevated testosterone suggests that the ovarian cysts caused by PZP could — either alone or in combination with PZP’s endocrine-disruptor effects — lead to high testosterone levels in treated females, as evidenced by their masculinized behavior.

PZP Causes Additional Adverse Effects

Gray & Cameron’s review also disclosed that, when PZP was administered to the females of a herd, males lost body condition while the oft-claimed improvement in female body condition did not hold up. Further, mares remained sexually active beyond the normal breeding season and had more estrus events.

PZP Selects for Weak Immune Function

Gray & Cameron’s analysis raised the possibility of PZP selecting for immuno-compromised individuals. Here’s why. Because PZP stimulates the immune system, it ironically works “best” — sterilizes faster — in mares that have strong immune-function. Such mares respond to the anti-vaccine and produce quantities of PZP antibodies that destroy their ovaries. But, conversely, PZP may not work at all in mares whose immune-function is weak or depressed. Those mares fail to respond to PZP. They keep getting pregnant and producing foals who, like their dam, suffer from weak immune-function. So, the PZP pesticide works against the very horses that Nature has best equipped for survival against disease while favoring and selecting for the immuno-compromised. Thus, a herd being treated with PZP is undergoing selective breeding for weak immunity, which puts the population at risk for disease — and ultimately, for extinction.

PZP Confers Dubious “Benefit” of Increased Longevity

Gray & Cameron also cited a study that found that “… PZP treated feral horse mares lived longer, resulting in a new age class (>25 years) not present before treatment ….” Exceptionally-long life is an ironic effect of PZP treatments. PZP’s manufacturer actually boasts about it, as if the anomaly were a good thing. However, Gray & Cameron questioned the supposed benefit of mares living much longer than their normal life expectancy. Indeed, such mares take up scarce slots within size-restricted populations. The ultra-elderly mares continue to consume resources for many years, but they no longer contribute to the gene-pool. It is detrimental to a population’s genetic viability to carry significant numbers of sterile herd-members way-beyond their normal life-span.

Research on Wildlife Contraceptives Revealed Stillbirths and Auto-Immune Oophoritis from PZP

There was an even earlier, definitive meta-analysis on wildlife contraceptives. Nettles (1997) reviewed 75 studies available at that time on the subject. Among his findings regarding PZP-use across different species, including horses, were: Stillbirths; altered ovarian structure and cyclicity; interference with normal ovarian function; permanent ovarian damage; and some cases of irreversible sterility due to auto-immune oophoritis, which suggested that PZP can be selective against a certain genotype in a population. [10] Many of these findings were confirmed by Kaur & Prabha as well as by Gray & Cameron. Please keep in mind these key findings: Stillbirths, and auto-immune oophoritis.

Recent Stillbirths Correlated with PZP

There is recent evidence confirming Nettles’ finding of a correlation between PZP treatments and subsequent stillbirths. In June 2015, Karen Sussman, President of the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros, reported that 7 mares previously treated with PZP at ISPMB, when taken off PZP, were able to get pregnant. However, 6 of those 7 mares — that is, 86 percent — produced foals that were stillborn. All other ISPMB mares that had not been injected with PZP successfully birthed healthy foals. Thus, given that environmental and other conditions were identical, the only variable was PZP. The dead foals have been sent to a university pathology department for autopsy. [18]

Autoimmune Oophoritis Induced by PZP

Research by the Rose-Cihakova-Caturegli Laboratory at Johns Hopkins Pathology found: “Automimmune oophoritis can be induced by immunization with testis and ovarian antigen murine human zona pellucida 3 peptide (pZP3) in adjuvant.” [16] Here again, is causation of autoimmune disease by a ZP-type product. This finding confirms other research cited herein.

Autoimmune Oophoritis and Risk of Other Autoimmune Diseases

A study by Varras et al. disclosed that, in humans, autoimmune oophoritis carries the risk of the patient developing other autoimmune diseases. [23] The correlation between autoimmune oophoritis and subsequent other autoimmune disorders weighs against injecting fillies and mares with PZP repeatedly and en masse.

Prolonged Breeding Season, Unusually-late Parturition Dates with PZP

Nettles’ meta-analysis on PZP disclosed other adverse effects: A prolonged breeding season and unusually-late parturition dates. (Parturition is the formal term for “giving birth.”) These findings have recently been confirmed, as is discussed below.

Parturition-Season Extends to Nearly Year-Round When a Herd Is Treated with PZP

A longitudinal study (Ransom et al. 2013) of three herds currently being managed by PZP — Little Book Cliffs, McCullough Peaks, and Pryor Mountain — found that the the parturition season lasted 341 days. [15] Ransom et al.’s finding of a nearly year-round birthing season supports the earlier finding by Nettles. Thus, during its period of potential reversibility, PZP’s effects wear off unpredictably. Out-of-season births put the life of both the mare and the foal in jeopardy. Nature designed the equine birthing-season to occur in Spring, not year-round, and certainly not in the dead of Winter.

Prolonged Delay in Recovery of Fertility

The same longitudinal study by Ransom et al. found that, after suspension of PZP, there was a delay lasting 411.3 days (1.13 years) per each year-of-treatment before mares recovered their fertility. What this means is that it takes that long, on average, for the ovaries to heal, to clear out all those cysts, and to regain some degree of normal hormonal function.

The question is: How is the delay in recovery-of-fertility addressed by BLM management practices? Answer: BLM ignores it. For instance, BLM currently administers PZP to Pryor Mountain’s fillies and mares starting at age 1½ — whom BLM artfully describes in the Environmental Assessment as fillies “becoming two year olds” — through age four. Thus, these fillies and mares receive intentional treatments for four consecutive years before being allowed the privilege of reproductive potentiality. Per Ransom et al.’s study, the Pryor Mountain fillies and mares would be expected to need 1,645.2 days (4.51 years) to regain reproductive capacity. But BLM gives the Pryor Mountain mares only 5 years off PZP before they are put back on it again — for the rest of their life. Thus, these fillies and mares might have just a six-month window — at best — in which to conceive. Due to the unpredictable timing of PZP’s wearing off, for some mares that window of fertility will close before they get a chance to produce a foal. Those mares’ genetic contribution will be zero.

As if the above scenario were not bad enough, PZP’s manufacturer conceded that it could take up to eight years to recover fertility after just three consecutive PZP treatments. [13]

Ransom Advises Proceeding with Caution regarding PZP

The Ransom et al. study warned: “Humans are increasingly attempting to manage the planet’s wildlife and habitats with new tools that are often not fully understood. The transient nature of the immunocontraceptive PZP can manifest into extraordinary persistence of infertility with repeated vaccinations, and ultimately can alter birth phenology in horses. This persistence may be of benefit for managing overabundant wildlife, but also suggests caution for use in small refugia or breeding facilities maintained for repatriation of rare species.” [15]

Because BLM keeps over 70 percent of the herds at levels below minimum-viable population (MVP), most herds qualify as “small refugia.” Pryor Mountain WHR is a small, isolated refuge, and its wild horses carry genes with rare alleles.

Ransom’s Exclusion of Seven Mares Evidences PZP’s Non-Effect on Immunocompromised Mares

In the “Data Collection” methodology section of the Ransom et al. report, the authors advised: “We omitted data for one female from the Little Book Cliffs and six females from McCullough Peaks because they produced offspring in every treatment year and thus were never effectively contracepted.”

This fact is important because it evidences PZP’s lack-of-efficacy on immunocompromised fillies and mares. To review: Because PZP activates the immune system, mares with naturally-low or depressed immune function do not “respond” to the treatment. It’s as if they had been injected with saline — their immune system is so weak that it does not react to the PZP by producing antibodies. The good news is such mares’ ovaries are saved from PZP’s destructive effects. The bad news is that these mares continue to become pregnant year after year, producing foals that will also tend to inherit low immune-function. Over time, the herd will become populated with more such low-immune horses because those with strong immunity get sterilized. Thus, PZP selects for horses with low immune function, which is bad for a herd in the long term. Even a routine infection could spread quickly and wipe out a population of horses with weak immune-function. If the goal is to preserve a herd, the use of PZP constitutes a worst management-practice.

BLM Was Fully-Aware of the Ransom Study but Suppressed the Findings

In their report, the authors of the Ransom et al. study gave a shout-out to BLM “for administrative and technical support throughout this project.” Thus, BLM was fully aware of the multi-year study while it was in progress and even lent support to it administratively and technically. Yet, in the case of the Pryor Mountain herd, BLM omitted this important report as a reference for the 2015 Environmental Assessment, which proposed intensifying the PZP “prescription.” Thus, BLM pretended that there was no such report and unethicallly suppressed it. Consequently, the public could not comment knowledgeably and appropriately on the continued use of — let alone the accelerated application of — PZP.

Three PZP Injections Can Trigger Sterility in Mares, or Just One Shot in Fillies Before Puberty

Disturbingly, another recent study on PZP (Knight & Rubenstein, 2014) found that ” … three or more consecutive years of treatment or administration of the first dose before sexual maturity may have triggered infertility in some mares. [9]

These findings are particularly troubling. They suggest that, actually, only two consecutive PZP-treatments may be reversible. Except, that is, in the case of fillies who have not yet reached puberty — they could be sterilized by just one injection. Recall the Pryor Mountain fillies, whose PZP treatments begin when they are just 1½ years old. They may not have reached puberty when they are initially treated. [1] And as we shall see later in this report, that first shot of PZP may not be their first shot of PZP.

Researchers Again Express Concerns about the Abnormal Life-Spans of Sterilized Mares

Knight & Rubenstein warned: “Inducing sterility, while relieving the mares from the energetic costs of lactation and reducing the stress from harem switching, may have unintended consequences on population dynamics by increasing longevity and eliminating the mares’ ability to contribute genetically.”

Knight & Rubenstein’s concerns support those of Gray & Cameron, who also questioned the supposed benefit of sterile mares’ extended life-spans. The abnormal numbers of aged, sterile mares count for census-purposes; but their presence disadvantages the younger horses, who become tageted for removal in order for BLM to achieve arbitrary management levels. Further, such mares no longer belong to the viable gene-pool.

PZP’s Destructive Antibodies Are Transmitted via the Placenta and Mother’s Milk

It gets worse. Sacco et al. reported that, per radioimmunoassay, PZP antibodies are transferred from mother to young via the placenta and milk. The transferred antibodies cross-react with and bind to the zonae pellucidae of female offspring, as demonstrated by immunofluorescent techniques. [17] These findings were disclosed in 1981. PZP’s manufacturer must have known about this dangerous effect, and certainly BLM should have investigated on its own whether there was any risk to the unborn or the nursing foal. Yet, the manufacturer continued to insist that there was no danger to the foal, whether born or unborn. [7 and 13] And in fact, BLM regularly administers PZP to pregnant and lactating mares, who transfer the destructive antibodies to their fetus, via the placenta, and to their foal, via mother’s milk.

Recall again the Pryor Mountain fillies. If their dams were injected with PZP while pregnant or nursing, such fillies will already have PZP antibodies cross-reacted with and bound to their zonae. Therefore, when those same fillies are injected at age 1½, it will be their second treatment, or potentially even their third. In fact, they could already have been sterilized in utero or while nursing, the treatment having been received prior to puberty, about which Knight & Rubenstein warned.

PZP Weakens Herd-Immunity, Posing Risk of Stochastic Events Leading to Herd-Extinction

To be self-sustaining, a herd needs to possess good immunity to withstand random catastrophes — known as stochastic events — such as contagious infections. There was such an event recently in Kazakhstan, where 120,000 endangered Saiga antelope — half the world’s population — died off suddenly and inexplicably within a two-week period. Scientists think a common bacterial infection was the cause of this mass-mortality event, but are unsure why the antelope were unable to fight off the disease immunologically. [14]

Imagine if such a catastrophe were to befall the Pryor Mountain horses, whose herd-immunity is being eroded by PZP. Note that the Saiga deaths involved antelope-mothers and their calves. If Pryor Mountain’s few fertile mares and their foals perished all of a sudden, that would leave just stallions and sterile old mares. The herd would be composed of the living dead, reproductively speaking, its rare alleles extinguished. BLM is failing to proactively manage the Pryor Mountain herd with stochastic events taken into consideration. That is malfeasance. PZP is a tool of immunological destruction, not of proper management.

PZP Continues the Use of Roundups and Removals

If the promise of PZP were true — if PZP really did eliminate the need to remove “excess” wild horses from the range — removals would have ended long ago in the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range, where PZP has been in use for approximately two decades. Yet removals are scheduled there with regularity every three years, the latest one in 2015.

Risks to Humans Who Administer PZP Injections

For staff and volunteers who inject wild horses with PZP, EPA’s Pesticide Fact Sheet advises that Personal Protective Equipment requirements include long sleeved shirt and long pants, gloves and shoes plus socks to mitigate occupational exposure. EPA specifically warns that pregnant women must not be involved in handling or injecting ZonaStat-H, and that all women should be aware that accidental self-injection may cause infertility. [20]

However, EPA’s Fact Sheet, the manufacturer’s training, and BLM’s operating procedures fail to inform pregnant women why it is so important that they strictly avoid PZP — because PZP’s antibodies cross the placenta and cross-react with and bind to an unborn female child’s own little zonae pellucidae. The baby-girl could be “anti-vaccinated” with PZP and even sterilized before birth.

EPA’s Fact Sheet, the manufacturer’s training, and BLM’s operating procedures fail to warn lactating women to avoid PZP and why — because PZP’s destructive antibodies would be passed along to a nursing female child via mother’s milk. The baby-girl could be “anti-vaccinated” with PZP and possibly sterilized simply from nursing.

EPA’s Fact Sheet, the manufacturer’s training, and BLM’s operating procedures fail to warn all women of the risk of ovarian dystrophy, oophoritis, ovarian cysts, and elevated testosterone-levels — in addition to infertility and, potentially, sterility — from unintentional self-injection.

EPA’s Fact Sheet, the manufacturer’s training, and BLM’s operating procedures fail to emphasize the magnitude of the risk — the PZP-in-question is a horse-size dose.

But Is There a Mandate to Practice Scientific Integrity?

Yes. The Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Code of Scientific and Scholarly Conduct applies to all staff members as well as to contractors, partners, permittees, and volunteers. The Code states: “Scholarly information considered in Departmental decision making must be robust, of the highest quality, and the result of as rigorous scientific and scholarly processes as can be achieved. Most importantly, it must be trustworthy.” [19]

BLM has ignored and suppressed independent scientific findings about PZP’s adverse effects and unintended consequences. Instead, BLM continues to rely almost exclusively on the manufacturer’s claims — shown and known to be false — regarding PZP’s safety for use on horses and for handling by humans. BLM is thus non-compliant with the Policy and malfeasant in its responsibilities to protect staff, volunteers, and the wild horses under its jurisdiction. BLM is also misleading and disinforming Congress and the American public about the PZP pesticide.

The manufacturer of PZP — a partner to BLM — misrepresented the pesticide as safe for use on animals by humans. The manufacturer knew or should have known that the former hypothesis regarding PZP’s mode-of-action had been disproved, and that PZP has dangerous side effects, safety-issues, and unintended consequences. Yet he hid and denied that information and failed to warn about PZP’s adverse effects. The manufacturer cited his own research as if it were definitive, and aggressively criticized independent researchers whose findings did not fully support his claims. Indeed, he recently submitted an Op-ed to The Salt Lake Tribune wherein he belittled the research of fellow scientists whose studies on PZP yielded results somewhat different from his own. [8] His accusations were so unreasonable that the scientists felt it necessary to submit an Op-ed in response to defend the integrity and validity of their work. [11] The manufacturer also disparaged members of the public — one of whom was a member of the Pennsylvania Game Commission — who expressed concerns about PZP. He dismissively accused them of “an attempt to mislead,” of “hyperbole,” of “knowingly manipulating information,” of “attempts to frighten people,” and of indulging in an “anti-intellectual approach to debates.” [7] By these actions, the manufacturer violated the DOI’s Code of Scientific and Scholarly Conduct.

PZP Manufacturer Misled Trainees into Believing that PZP Was Safe

BLM staff and volunteers receive their training from PZP’s manufacturer in how to handle and administer the pesticide. BLM is remiss in delegating the training to the manufacturer without verifying the adequacy of the instruction and the truthfulness of it. Two comments recorded recently in the media suggest that PZP’s manufacturer misled not just the public-at-large but those who received training therefrom in how to administer PZP.

First, the manufacturer has been quoted as saying that PZP is “so safe it is boring.” [3] Independent research shows otherwise — that PZP is a powerful hormone disruptor that could sterilize a female with just one injection. If trainees believe that PZP is boringly safe, they will be less likely to protect themselves adequately from this dangerous pesticide. Indeed, many of the trainees are women and, therefore, particularly at risk. Likewise, wild-horse advocates are lulled into complacency, trusting that PZP is harmless to the Pryor Mountain horses and their rare genetic alleles. Of course, none of that is true.

Second, a PZP supporter, who self-identified as a recent completer of the PZP-darting training program conducted by the manufacturer, said in a comment posted to a news article: “I just received my FDA certification to handle and administer Native PZP. Would you be so kind to provide a link to the study you keep referencing? To my knowledge, and those teaching the Native PZP certification class, there are no side effects of the PZP produced by Dr. Kirkpatrick and his team, which is Native PZP.” [2] Key words: “no side effects.” It is disturbing that a person who was, no doubt, motivated by a desire to help the horses has been disinformed regarding PZP’s safety-hazards to humans as well as to horses.

BLM Fails to Maintain Proper Supervision of the PZP Volunteers

The issue of safety is not the only concern. As BLM has admitted, volunteers darted the wrong mares on Pryor Mountain. These errors evidence that BLM has failed to maintain supervisory control over the volunteer-inoculators, allowing them to conduct the PZP-darting by themselves. The mistakes further evidence that the volunteers do not understand what is expected of them. Who can say whether other procedures were not complied with either. The fact that mares were darted who were ineligible for PZP per the then-current protocol, but who would be eligible under the proposed-but-not-yet-promulgated new “prescription,” suggests that the volunteers may have concluded — from BLM’s open contempt for the Constitution and disrespect for the NEPA process — that was okay for them to start darting otherwise-ineligible mares right away. Not surprisingly, BLM blames the volunteers for these mistakes, but probably has not informed them that they are being made to take the rap for management’s shortcomings.


PZP is appropriately categorized as a pesticide by the EPA. PZP “works” by tricking the immune system into attacking and destroying the ovaries. PZP has many adverse effects as well as unintended consequences. PZP presents safety-hazards to humans who handle it. PZP is a dangerous pesticide whose use is antithetical to the spirit and intent of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. BLM’s continuing to use PZP while ignoring and suppressing the evidence of its harmful effects constitutes malfeasance.


This report was completed by Marybeth Devlin on December 24, 2015. Copyright Marybeth Devlin and Protect Mustangs 2015.


1. EquiMed staff. (2010, March 13) Equine Reproductive Maturity in Mares and Stallions. Puberty in Equines. Retrieved from http://equimed.com/health-centers/reproductive-care/articles/equine-reproductive-maturity-in-mares-and-stallions

2. EWCS. (2015, November 10). Re: “Contraceptive could reduce taxpayer costs for wild horses.” Retrieved from http://wyomingpublicmedia.org/post/contraceptive-could-reduce-taxpayer-costs-wild-horses#comment-2352628323

3. Ferguson, Mike. (2015, June 4) “Police called as group protests wild horse contraceptives.” The Billings Gazette. Retrieved from http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/police-called-as-group-protests-wild-horse-contraceptives/article_81462303-e128-5ee8-a7ef-2c8b098450f6.html

4. Gray, M.E. and Cameron, E.Z. (2010) Does contraceptive treatment in wildlife result in side effects? A review of quantitative and anecdotal evidence. Reproduction 139, 45-55. Online publication date: 1-Jan-2010. Retrieved at http://www.reproduction-online.org/content/139/1/45.full

5. Kaur, Kiranjeet and Prabha, Vijay. (2014) “Immunocontraceptives: New Approaches to Fertility Control,” BioMed Research International, vol. 2014, Article ID 868196, 15 pages, 2014. doi:10.1155/2014/868196. Retrieved from http://downloads.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2014/868196.pdf

6. Kirkpatrick, J. F., I. K. M. Liu, J. W. Turner, Jr., R. Naugle, and R. Keiper. 1992a. Long-term effects of porcine zonae pellucidae immunocontraception on ovarian function of feral horses (Equus caballus). J. Reprod. Fert. 94:437-444. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1317449

7. Kirkpatrick, Jay. 2007. “Response to PA [Pennsylvania] Game Commission.” Posted on PNC’s Wildlife Forever Home Page. Retrieved from http://www.pzpinfo.org/home.html

8. Kirkpatrick, Jay F. (2015, May 16). Op-ed: Wild-horse contraceptives are based on sound science. The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved from http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/2517266-155/op-ed-wild-horse-contraceptives-are-based-on?fullpage=1

9. Knight, Colleen M., Rubenstein, Daniel I. 2014. The Effects of Porcine Zona Pellucida Immunocontraception on Health and Behavior of Feral Horses (Equus caballus). Princeton University Thesis, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Retrieved from http://dataspace.princeton.edu/jspui/handle/88435/dsp01vt150j42p

10. Nettles, Victor F. (1997) Potential consequences and problems with wildlife contraceptives. Reproduction, Fertility and Development 9(1) 137 – 144. Retrieved from http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/R96054.htm Accessed full pdf text via purchase of a copy from Csiro Publishing.

11. Nuñez, Cassandra, Jim Adelman and Dan Rubenstein. (2015, July 3). Op-ed: Wild horse contraception not without unintended consequences. The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved from http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/2653298-155/op-ed-wild-horse-contraception-not-without

12. PCOS Foundation. (2015) What Causes PCOS? Retrieved from http://www.pcosfoundation.org/what-is-pcos

13. PNC, Inc. (Pity Not Cruelty). PZP FAQs. (2006) “Frequently Asked Questions on Immunocontraception.” (Special thanks to Jay Kirkpatrick and Rick Naugle for additions and corrections). Retrieved from http://www.pzpinfo.org/pzp_faqs.html

14. Raab. Lauren. (2015, May 31) “120,000 endangered saiga antelopes die mysteriously in Kazakhstan.” Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-saiga-antelope-die-off-20150531-story.html

15. Ransom JI, Hobbs NT, Bruemmer J (2013) Contraception Can Lead to Trophic Asynchrony between Birth Pulse and Resources. PLoS ONE 8(1): e54972. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054972. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23383018

16. Rose-Cihakova-Caturegli Laboratory. (n.d.) Autoimmune Oophoritis. Johns Hopkins Pathology. Retrieved from http://pathology.jhu.edu/department/RCCLab/Oophoritis.cfm

17. Sacco AG, Subramanian MG, Yurewicz EC. (1981) Passage of zona antibodies via placenta and milk following active immunization of female mice with porcine zonae pellucidae. J Reprod Immunol. 1981 Dec;3(6):313-22. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7328557

18. Sussman, Karen. (2015 June 6) “Suspicious Deaths with Use of Anti-Fertility Drugs.” International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros. Retrieved from http://www.ispmb.org/BirthControlDeaths.html

19. United States Department of the Interior. Integrity of Scientific and Scholarly Activities Policy. Code of Conduct. Retrieved from https://www.doi.gov/scientificintegrity

20. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Pesticide Fact Sheet. Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP). New Chemical. Nonfood Use. January 2012. Retrieved from

21. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. Endocrine Disruptors. Retrieved from http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/

22. U.S. National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health. Ovarian overproduction of androgens. Retrieved from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001165.htm

23. Varras M, Anastasiadis A, Panelos J, Balassi E, Demou A, Akrivis CH. (2013) Autoimmune oophoritis: Clinical presentation of an unusual clinical entity. OA Case Reports 2013 Jan 31;2(1):7. Retrieved from http://www.oapublishinglondon.com/article/369#

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