Feds want to use 11 million tax dollars to experiment on American Wild Horses and Burros

Note from Protect Mustangs: If you don’t like this then: 1.) Go see your congressional representative this week and ask them to intervene to stop these horrible experiments on America’s wild horses who are being managed to extinction. 2.) Sign and share this petition and email it to everyone you know: https://www.change.org/p/defund-and-stop-the-wild-horse-burro-roundups Groups like The Cloud Foundation and the coalition led by The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign seem to be misleading the public because they have chosen pushing PZP (controlled by The Humane Society of the United States) over championing wild horse freedom on public land. They slip appeals for PZP in the bottom of their online petitions hoping the public won’t notice what they are signing. That was the beginning of this slippery slope towards experimentation and extinction. Why? Follow the money, fear mongering and the seduction to campaign for drugging wild horses and burros with a risky pesticide made from slaughterhouse pig ovaries to block fertility. . . 3.) It’s time to join Protect Mustangs to protect our national treasures. Go to www.ProtectMustangs.org to sign up. 4.) You can donate to the Wild Horse Legal Fund also. The crowd funding link is here: https://www.gofundme.com/MustangLaw2016 or donate by www.PayPal.com to Contact@ProtectMustangs.org and please mark your donation is for the “Legal Fund”. Thank you for taking action today! Together we can turn this around.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wants to use American tax dollars in several cruel experiments to develop methods of wild horse and burro population control–despite the fact that there is no overpopulation of wild horses or burros. The BLM anticipates the total cost of the experiments to be $11 million over 5 years.The research is being conducted by university scientists as well as scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Research with Universities results in experimenting on wild horses and burros

In its 2013 report to the BLM, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) found that no highly effective, easily delivered and affordable fertility-control methods were currently available for use on wild horses and burros. The most promising birth control, PZP, made from slaughterhouse pig ovaries, is limited in the duration of its effectiveness (1-2 years). At the same time, after multiple applications or if applied to young fillies it permanently sterilizes native wild horses.

The BLM released a solicitation for experimentation to develop new or improve existing population growth suppression methods for wild horses. (http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/newsroom/2015/july/nr_07_07_2015.html)  The following seven research projects were reviewed and recommended by an NAS panel of experts and are consistent with recommendations made to the BLM by its Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board who is biased against wild horses and prefers livestock use public land for cheap grazing.

Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board Meeting in 2013


© EquineClinic.comn shared for educational purposes

© EquineClinic.comn shared for educational purposes

1. Evaluation of minimally invasive methods of contraception in wild horse and burro mares: tubal ligation and hysteroscopically-guided oviduct papilla laser ablation. This was pushed by pro-slaughter advocates who want the horses free of fertility control drugs so they can go to slaughter eventually.

Recipient: Oregon State University
Summary: A one-year experiment that will aim to develop a minimally invasive surgical sterilization method for wild horse mares that requires no incisions.
Details: In an effort to develop minimally invasive, low-risk techniques for contraception and population control in female wild horses and burros, the experiment will evaluate two procedures, tubal ligation and hysteroscopically-guided laser ablation of the oviduct papilla in standing sedated females. For tubal ligation, the research team hypothesizes that a flexible endoscope inserted through a small incision in the vaginal vault will allow visualization of each oviduct in mares. Use of a diode laser or cautery instrument will allow effective fulguration followed by bloodless sectioning of the oviduct. This procedure should allow successful sterilization of up to 100% of female wild horses and burros gathered in any particular location as a single event. For the hysteroscopic procedure, the recipients expect to endoscopically visualize each oviduct papilla in standing, sedated, non-pregnant mares. A diode laser will be used to seal the opening between the oviduct and each uterine horn, thus preventing subsequent fertilization. The proposed procedures do not involve major surgery, are expected to have minimal complications while approaching 100% effectiveness, and when applied, are expected to result in a static to decreasing population level. Additionally, tubal ligation is a technique commonly performed in humans. The development of an acceptable sterilization technique will help control the population levels of wild horses and burros.

2. Tubo-ovarian ligation via colpotomy as a method for sterilization in mares

Recipient: University of Kentucky
Summary: A two-year experiment to develop different surgical approaches for tubal ligation in mares.
Details: The overall goal of this experiment is to develop methodology for the safe, economical and effective sterilizationof mares via colpotomy (vaginal incision) to achieve: 1) ovarian necrosis / atrophy via application of a ligature to the ovarian pedicle and 2) simultaneous sterilization via tubal ligation (i.e., tubo-ovarian ligation). The project will help determine the effectiveness of a custom-designed instrument for placement of a polyamide (nylon) cable tie around the ovarian pedicle and oviduct of mares via colpotomy for tubo-ovarian ligation. The procedure, conducted in the standing animal under sedation and local anesthesia, is expected to induce permanent sterilization of treated mares. The researchers will assess any post-operative complications of the procedure in mares and the effects on the health of mares to determine long-term effects on the reproductive tract, the overall health of mares and the fertility of mares undergoing the procedure, and the feasibility of these procedures in pregnant mares.

PM Sick Filly PVC March 25 2014
3. Functional assessment of ovariectomy (spaying) via colpotomy of wild mares as an acceptable method of contraception and wild horse population control

Recipient: Oregon State University
Summary: A six-month experiment that will determine whether an existing accepted surgical sterilization procedure commonly used for domestic mares can be safely conducted on wild horses.
Details: This experiment proposes to conduct a large-scope investigation of the safety and practicality of spaying mares as a tool for wild horse population control. Specifically, the researchers will help determine whether ovariectomy via vaginal colpotomy can be safely and effectively performed on wild mares that have been selected for non-breeding status. Non-breeding horses could then be returned to the range to live out their natural lives without individually contributing to population growth. The proposed research effort is based on recent pilot studies that have suggested the potential for surgery-related health complications from ovariectomy in adult female horses is low (near 1%). When evaluating options for field techniques, spaying (ovariectomizing) mares as a population control method is not recommended unless it can be performed in a safe, practical, and effective manner. The results of this study will provide standardized, baseline outcomes for this surgical procedure which can be directly compared to other less invasive procedures being conducted and evaluated by the same research team.

PM WC11 Lucky 11 Map

Map of Western United States showing 12 current field research/pilot projects.

4. Re-immunization of Free-Ranging Horses with GonaCon Immunological Vaccine: Effects on Reproduction, Safety, and Population Performance

Recipient: Colorado State University
Summary: A two-year experiment will focus on further study of Gonocon, an approved and labeled contraceptive vaccine for equids.

PM PZP Injection
Details: This experiment will focus on the effectiveness of GonaCon as an immunological vaccine, with five objectives: 1) to begin to determine the optimum and most effective re-vaccination schedule with GonaCon vaccine for suppressing reproductive rates in free-ranging horses, the duration of effectiveness, and the return to fertility following treatment; 2) to determine the safety and physiological side-effects (if any) in feral horses following re-vaccination with GonaCon including visual assessment of general health, body condition, injection site reactions, effects on current pregnancy, and neonatal health and survival; 3) to determine the effects of GonaCon vaccination on the behavioral side-effects (if any) in free-ranging horses including quantitative assessment of the effects on daily activity patterns and social interactions; 4) to develop and test a safe and effective dart configuration and injection system for remotely administering GonaCon vaccine to free-ranging horses by means of a syringe dart; and 5) to develop a Bayesian model to forecast the consequences of different GonaCon vaccine treatments on feral horse population dynamics at THRO. [Teddy Roosevelt National Park].

5. The Effect of Immunization against Oocyte Specific Growth Factors in Mares

Recipient: Colorado State University
Summary: A two-year experiment to develop a new, permanent contraceptive vaccine for wild horse mares.
Details: This experiment will focus on vaccination against two key proteins in wild horse and burro females, either alone or in combination, which may result in permanent sterility through premature oocyte depletion. The depletion of oocytes may occur by simply causing them all to become atretic prematurely and/or accelerating the process so that after a single season the mares and jennies have depleted their oocyte reserves. To test this hypothesis, the researchers will vaccinate mares against the proteins and track their sexual behavior, follicular growth, hormonal profile and ultimately total oocyte count over a two-year period. The long-term goal is to develop a vaccine that can cause permanent sterility after a single dose.

PM Burros Wild 2 © Carl Mrozek

Cruel way to drag foal by pulling bailing twine around their neck (Photo © Bo Rodriguez)

Cruel way to drag foal by pulling bailing twine around their neck (Photo © Bo Rodriguez)

6. Electrospun delivery to enhance the effectiveness of immunocontraception strategies in equids

Recipient: Ohio State University
Summary: A four-year experiment that will attempt to develop a new delivery vehicle for porcine zona pellucida (PZP) – a temporary contraceptive currently used in some wild horse herds – that would increase the duration of the vaccine’s effectiveness.
Details: To reduce population on public lands, horse immunocontraception has largely focused on the use of PZP in free-roaming wild populations. The vaccine appears to act by stimulating anti-PZP antibodies that bind to the surface of the ovulated egg, preventing sperm attachment. While performance has been satisfactory, recent results have been associated with contraceptive efficiencies that are considerably less than 100%. The basis for this is unknown but is believed to be in part caused by delivery methods that require substantial heating during polymer vehicle fabrication, expose PZP to enzymatic fluids prior to entry into the bloodstream and allow gradual – not burst – release. Gradual release can potentially desensitize the immune system to the presence of PZP, resulting in inferior production of anti-PZP antibodies. Thus, an ideal delivery method would allow release of PZP in “bursts” at pre-determined intervals to assure constant immune stimulation. This project will seek to develop an electrospun technology that can allow long-term, ‘burst’ delivery of porcine zona pellucida (PZP) vaccines to the intramuscular environment of horses and burros to result in prolonged suppression of reproduction. For large-scale application, free roaming horses could be gathered in the field and processed through stock chutes for aging, at which time the implants will be inserted by trocar. The experiment will also carry out parallel in vitro and in vivo experiments to examine the potential of electrospun vehicles as immunocontraceptive carriers. An electrospun “universal delivery vehicle” will be developed to provide sustained release of effective levels of porcine zona pellucida (PZP) for immunocontraception over periods of at least three years. By careful design, fabrication and testing of two different electrospun designs, the researchers will create a comprehensive evaluation of this novel method of delivery.

Pm PZP Darts
7. The use of membrane disrupting peptide / peptoid LHRH conjugates to control wild horse and burro populations

Recipient: Louisiana State University
Summary: A three-year experiment for the development of an injectable agent that would inactivate hormones and decrease female and male gonad viability.
Details: The experiment is a multidisciplinary effort aimed at developing novel drugs to control wild horse and burro populations. Several types of drugs consisting of conjugates of membrane disrupting peptides (such as Phor 21) with luteinizing hormone releasing hormone (LHRH) currently exist. These drugs (such as LHRH-Phor 21 conjugate) effectively target, bind to and destroy prostate, testicular, breast and ovarian cancer cells, as well as testicular and ovarian cells that control reproduction. LHRH targets the cell and delivers Phor 21 to the cancer cell or the reproductive cell in the testes or ovary and destroys it. Preliminary experiments suggest that administration of this drug by a slow-release delivery system will destroy the cells that control spermatogenesis in the male and follicle growth, oocyte development, ovulation and cyclicity in the female. Preliminaryresults also show that LHRH-Phor 21 targets and destroys gonadotropic cells in the pituitary gland. This indicates that cessation of reproductive activity is the result of both central control at the level of the pituitary gland and on receptor binding cells in both male and female gonads. The experiment will also assess the effect the drugs have on pregnant mares, both in early gestation and late gestation.

PM PZP Syringe Yearling Meme

Additional details about these experiments can be found in the following documents:

Detailed Summary of University-led Experiments for Fertility Control Tools for Wild Horses
Review of Proposals to the BLM on Wild Horse and Burro Sterilization or Contraception: A Letter Report
Research with the U.S. Geological Survey

Through its partnership with U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the BLM is undertaking important research aimed at delivering better methods and tools for managing wild horse and burro herds on public lands. These projects build upon on-going cooperation between the BLM and USGS that is implementing new methods to estimate wild horse and burro population size.

There are nine USGS experiments that have been approved or are on-going:
Collaring & radio marking (1 year): The aim is to develop safe GPS collars for tracking animals to determine habitat selection, movement ecology, population estimation, behavior, etc. GPS tracking might also help locating animals for contraceptive treatments.
Fecal DNA (genetics/population survey) (1.5 years): The experiment involves the collection and analysis of fecal DNA as a noninvasive method to determine genetic diversity and estimate population size.
Carrying capacity modeling (1 year): This experiment’s aim is to develop a coarse model to evaluate changes in animal carrying capacity in response to changes in vegetation production. The resulting model may help BLM to adapt plans in response to climatic change.

PM PZP Syringe FB
Mare Contraception -SpayVac Pen Trial II (5 years): This experiment will help determine the efficacy of alternative SpayVac contraceptive vaccine formulations that are potentially longer acting than conventional PZP vaccines.
Evaluating Behavior of Spayed Free-Roaming Mares (4 years): The experiment will determine the effects of spaying on behavior, interactions, and movement of spayed mares among a breeding herd. The study will also determine the population level effect on herd growth.
Evaluating Behavior of Geldings among a Breeding Herd (4 years): This experiment will determine any effects of gelding on behavior, movement, interactions and changes in habitat selection.
Two Sentinel Horse Herd Management Area (HMA) Demography Studies (2 studies, each of 5 years): These experiments will provide demographic data sets for use in new population models and serve as control HMAs for gelding and spayed mare field studies.
Burro Sentinel HMA Demography Study (5 years): The experiment will involve collecting data on the survival, fertility, fecundity, recruitment, movements, range use, habitat selection and social behavior of wild burros. These data will be used in population modeling.
The BLM has requested or is reviewing proposals for the following projects with USGS:
Evaluate the Use of a Silastic O-Ring Intrauterine Device (IUD) in Mares (4 years): This experiment will determine any effects on mare health resulting from the long-term presence of the silastic O-ring IUD. This IUD has effectively prevented pregnancy in domestic mares during one breeding season.
Burro Population Survey Method Development (2.5 years): This experiment will test two new population survey methods for wild burros. The existing simultaneous double-observer method, when applied to burros, tends to lead to underestimates of true burro population size.
WinEquus II – Population Model with Cost/Benefit Outputs (1.5 years): This experiment will develop a model that compares population modeling outcomes and projects the costs, benefits and expected population growth resulting from management actions that involve PZP, removals, spaying, gelding and other population growth suppression tools.
Testing Efficacy of Contraceptives for Female Burros (3-4 years): Contraceptive vaccines have yet to be used on wild burros due to limited research and unknown effects. This study will examine the efficacy of various existing vaccines.

PM Hazard Foter Public domain Marked Sterilize

© Protect Mustangs, 2016

American Tragedy ~ RIP Shadow

Dead Shadow © Jim Hart Protect Mustangs

“It will be almost two weeks ago that I sent the letter to Congressman Raúl Grijalva of Arizona stating that the wild horses and burros need shade at the long and short term holding facilities that are managed by the Bureau of Land Management, especially at the Palomino Valley Complex near Reno, Nevada,” explains Dr. Lester Friedlander, BA, DVM. “I am shocked and dismayed to see the photograph of the dead horse in the middle of the pen. I explicitly told of the danger of high temperatures that could take the toll on those horses. This death and others could have been prevented if the authorites in charge of that facility would have taken the proper procedures to protect the horses. This is an American Tragedy and I pray that no more wild horses or burros succumb to such an excruciating death.”

“The BLM’s historic disregard for America’s wild horses is a global embarrassment,” states Anne Novak. “We hope the new Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell, will intervene to bring them shade and call for a moratorium on roundups for population studies, based on science of course. They’re underpopulated on the range now. That’s why they are breeding at a higher rate–to prevent extinction.”

RIP  Shadow  July 2, 2013

Press Release: http://protectmustangs.org/?p=4725

#Shade4Mustangs  www.ProtectMustangs.org


For immediate release

BREAKING NEWS: Citizen investigation reveals wild horses are sick and dying at national adoption center without shade

Video report calls for Secretary Jewell to intervene with emergency shelters

RENO,Nv (July 8 2013)–Protect Mustangs is releasing a preliminary video report of captive wild horses denied shade in the recent triple-digit heat wave. Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs, America’s indigenous horse conservation group, has been leading a nationwide outreach campaign (#Shade4Mustangs) on Facebook and Twitter to bring shade to captive wild horses and burros at Palomino Valley Center outside Reno, and elsewhere. Last week’s heat wave broke records. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) refused to install shade despite Novak and Senator Mark Manendo’s requests, outcry from the public and other groups. Protect Mustangs conducted a field investigation during the heat wave with the help of Reno photographer Taylor James, Jim Hart the President of Liberty for Horses and Dennis Walker. The video report calls for the new Interior Secretary, Sally Jewell, to have compassion and bring emergency shade because captive mustangs are sick and dying. In the wild they can migrate to shade and cooler zones. Trapped in pens it’s cruel to deny them access to shade and shelter.

“The BLM’s historic disregard for America’s wild horses is a global embarrassment,” states Anne Novak. “We hope the new Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell, will intervene to bring them shade and call for a moratorium on roundups for population studies, based on science of course. They’re underpopulated on the range now. That’s why they are breeding at a higher rate–to prevent extinction.”

The heat wave investigation found horses without shade who appear to have respiratory illness, as well as ones who have other illneses and diseases. They are exhausted from repeated exposure to triple-digit temperatures, sore, stiff, probably lame foals, lactating mares, and young wild horses who also appear dehydrated, obese horses, hot sweaty horses and hot horses not sweating, young horses not wanting to get up and eat, who are ill or dying as well as a dead filly the group named “Shadow”.

When the summer heat started to rise on June 9th Anne Novak & Senator Manendo officially called for shade for more than 1,800 captive wild horses at Palomino Valley Center, the largest short-term federal holding facility in America.

Novak uses Facebook & Twitter to reach thousands of people through her widespread outreach. Celebrities such as Daryl Hannah, and Holly Marie Combs graciously shared out Novak’s calls for shade.

On June 24, 2013, esteemed Dr. Lester Friedlander BA DVM called for an emergency action to bring shelter to the wild horses and burros.

Novak continued to contact elected officials, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) personnel and the newly appointed Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell, requesting shade to prevent deaths from the upcoming heat wave. To this date she has not heard back from Secretary Jewell.

No shade was provided in triple-digit heat–only a handful of ineffective sprinklers for “mitigation”. Neither Protect Mustangs nor Dr. Friedlander suggested using sprinklers. They requested shade and shelter.

Dr. Friedlander DVM and Anne Novak warned the Bureau of Land Management that the wild horses would suffer disease, infections and heat related deaths without shelter from the heat.

Protect Mustangs has been working with Dr. Lester Friedlander BA, DVM, photographer Taylor James, Jim Hart, President of Liberty for Horses, Dennis Walker and other advocates to document the fiasco during the record-breaking heat wave and advocate for change–shelters for wild horses and burros in holding facilities.

Despite the BLM’s ‘sprinkler mitigation’ PR campaign, the Protect Mustangs’ investigation found sick, sore, horses as well as a dead filly hours before the BLM facility official, Jeb Beck, gave Fox News an interview about the ‘sprinklers’.

In his July 2nd Fox News interview Beck says: “We’ve never experienced any problems with the heat and whatnot,” says Beck. “Because of the publicity it’s getting, we wanted to make a proactive step and try suggestions that were brought to us.” – (See more at:http://www.foxreno.com/news/news/local/wild-horses-trying-beat-heat/nYcsD/#sthash.xNDnlcmV.dpuf)

“We witnessed several young wild horses who would not get up,” says Jim Hart, President of Liberty for Horses. “They were just lying there. The heat wave seemed to have taken its toll on them. Then we found ‘Shadow’ who had died. The horses in the pen were coming over as if to say good-bye. When we came back to the pen later Shadow’s body had disappeared.”

Eye witnesses have documented the following during the heat wave:


1.) Triple-digit temperatures

2.) No shade and no relief from the record-breaking heat

3.) No shelter from the strong winds and dust storms

4.) One or No sprinklers seen (depending on the day)

5.) Wild horses stayed away from the sprinkler.

6.) Lactating mares and foals appeared depressed, sore and dehydrated

7..) Horses with bad hoof care

8.) A lot of depressed horses and possibly ill horses

9.) Horses missing their tags

10.) Horses with respiratory illness

11.) Obese horses

12.) Yearlings and other horses who were lying down, breathing hard and not getting up to eat.

13.) Most of them had severe gas

14.) A dead bay filly named Shadow in the pens

15.) The dead filly named Shadow “disappeared” when they came back to the pen

The public wants to know “How many had died? And why is the BLM hiding the deaths?”

Novak has requested the mortality count during the heat wave since June 27 and wants to know the number of sick horses also. Witnesses Hart & Walker asked to view the sick pens but were denied permission to view from a distance.

Palomino Valley Center doesn’t keep track of the dead unbranded foals according to Heather Emmons Jasinki, Public Affairs Officer for the Bureau of Land Management.

“We are requesting immediate transparency and accountability for the mortality rates at all facilities as well as shade and shelter for the captive wild horses and burros,” states Novak. “These wild horses should be living with their families in freedom on the range not enduring cruelty in a government holding pen. Is it time for another agency–without a conflict of interest–to manage America’s native wild horses and burros?”

Less than 18,000 native wild horses and burros are estimated to be living in freedom in all ten western states combined. Today more than 50,000 are stockpiled in government funded holding–at risk of disappearing into the slaughter pipeline. Horse advocates want to see them returned to the range.

The National Academy of Sciences has stated there is no accurate population count. Protect Mustangs, AANHCP and other horse advocate groups know that when a scientific population study is done, the numbers will be very low.

The BLM’s population numbers have been inflated by BLM to justify costly roundups and removals for the public land grab and industrialization.

“The BLM requires adopters to provide ‘access to shelter’ so why aren’t they doing the same?” asks Dennis Walker from Northern California. “It was horrible to see these horses surfing with no shade.”

“They are all so sweet and young,” says James. “I’ve been visiting them sometimes twice a day, to check on them. They would be flaring their nostrils and after the first day they didn’t sweat as much. I was worried. After a few days some would not eat but clearly were weak and dehydrated. They should have never been removed from the range, It’s not fair that Shadow died because the BLM didn’t want to give them shade while they sit in their air conditioned offices, drinking their fresh, cold water.”

# # #

Media Contacts:

Anne Novak, 415.531.8454 Anne@ProtectMustangs.org

Kerry Becklund, 510.502.1913 Kerry@ProtectMustangs.org

Photos, video and interviews available upon request

Links of interest:

Captive wild horses need shade, advocates say, Horsetalk, NZ:http://horsetalk.co.nz/2013/07/02/captive-wild-horses-need-shade-advocates-say/#axzz2YQ4084gM

How many foals are dying after roundups?: http://protectmustangs.org/?p=4246

BLM’s email revealing they are not counting the unbranded dead amongst the 37 dead mustangs at the Nevada facility http://protectmustangs.org/?p=4220

NPR: Fertility drug, nature, better than horse roundups  http://newsle.com/article/0/78084688/

Information on native wild horses: http://protectmustangs.org/?page_id=562

Wild-horse advocates: Rallies held in 50 states to drum up opposition to roundups, slaughter http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/80561cc4e8a64b43ae909f7d09a0473e/NV–Wild-Horses-Rallies

Animals Angels investigative report: http://www.animalsangels.org/the-issues/horse-slaughter/foia-requests/497-blm-nevada-mortality-records-a-nevada-rendering-animals-angels-foia-request-reveals-discrepancies.htm

ProPublica: All the missing horses: What happened to the wild horses Tom Davis bought from the gov’t?http://www.propublica.org/article/missing-what-happened-to-wild-horses-tom-davis-bought-from-the-govt

Palomino Valley Center: http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/prog/wh_b/palomino_valley_national.html

Protect Mustangs’ press releases: http://protectmustangs.org/?page_id=12

Anne Novak quotes at Newsle: http://newsle.com/AnneNovak

Protect Mustangs in the news: http://protectmustangs.org/?page_id=218

June 9th Novak & Senator Manendo ask for shade at Palomino Valley: http://protectmustangs.org/?p=4501



Press Release: No proof of overpopulation, no need for native wild horse fertility control


Sally Jewell, Fortune Live Media / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

Sally Jewell, Fortune Live Media / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

For immediate release:

Is it safe to use pesticides on an indigenous species? 

WASHINGTON (June 7, 2013)–In light of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report on wild horses and burros lacking data for an overpopulation claim, Protect Mustangs calls upon Secretary Jewell for an immediate halt to roundups and to return the 50,000 wild horses in government holding to the more than 30 million acres of herd management areas in the West to reduce costs quickly. The native wild horse conservation group calls on the Department of Interior to acknowledge wild horses are native, implement holistic land management and reserve design thus creating a win-win for wild horses to help the ecosystem and reverse desertification. Protect Mustangs requests that ‘survival of the fittest’ should be the only form of fertility control considered because indigenous wild horses must not become domesticated on the range. Artificial management such as pesticides and sterilizations should never be used on a native species such as Equus caballus.

“With the gluttony of roundups and removals, wild horses reproduce at a higher rate to prevent extinction,” explains Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs. “We need more studies to establish what the normal reproduction rate is and discover truths about alleged overpopulation on the more than 30 million acres of public wildlands designated for their use. Today there is no scientific proof of overpopulation to merit fertility control.”

In July 2010, Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) spearheaded a letter signed by members of Congress, requesting an investigation of the Wild Horse and Burro Program by the National Academy of Sciences. This was a direct result of public outcry and media exposure of roundup carnage. Three years later, the NAS report was released last Wednesday.

According to a press release from NAS released Wednesday, “The U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) current practice of removing free-ranging horses from public lands promotes a high population growth rate, and maintaining them in long-term holding facilities is both economically unsustainable and incongruent with public expectations, says a new report by the National Research Council.”

“Making decisions to apply a fertility drug to wild horse herd mares would put wild horse herds in danger of a die-off if any natural or manmade disaster struck the herd management area–be it wildfire, an extreme winter, mass predation or something else,” explains Kathleen Gregg, environmental researcher. “If a majority of the mares are non-reproducing and thus zero or even just a few births, then it is easy to see that the entire herd would be in jeopardy, both genetically and physically, and would diminish their ability to survive into the future. Then we have a herd that is not safe on its own range. Wild horses must to be protected as the law states they shall be.”

“Unfortunately, the Academy quickly recommends fertility control as a better solution without considering the ‘do nothing’ or ‘placebo’ option which is an integral component of every credible field trial for pharmaceutical and other ‘treatment’ plans,” states Carl Mrozek, filmmaker of Saving Ass in America. “Had they searched for examples of herds with minimal or no culling in the past decade or so, they would have found multiple examples of herds which appear to have achieved homeostasis (equilibrium) or something approaching it, naturally, without BLM roundups or fertility treatments.”

“The NAS findings clearly state that the BLM has failed to provide accurate estimates of the nation’s population of wild horses and burros,” states Jesica Johnston, environmental scientist and biologist. “Therefore, the NAS cannot conclude that a state of over-population exists and or provide a recommendation for artificial management considerations such as ‘rigorous fertility controls’ to control populations for which the complex population dynamics are currently unknown.”

Recently fertility control, in the form of immunocontraceptives for wild horses, was erroneously passed by the EPA as “restricted use pesticides”. The EPA inaccurately named indigenous wild horses “pests” in order to pass the drug. Pesticides (PZP, GonaCon®, etc.) should never be used on native species such as E. caballus.

“PZP and other fertility control should not be used on non-viable herds either,” states Debbie Coffey, director of wild horse affairs at Wild Horse Freedom Federation.  “Most of the remaining herds of wild horses are non-viable. The NAS and any advocacy groups that are pushing PZP and other fertility control have not carefully studied all of the caveats in Dr. Gus Cothran’s genetic analysis reports along with the remaining population of each herd of wild horses.”

Equus caballus originated in North America more than 2 million years ago. Equus survived extinction through migration and E.caballus could have returned to America with the Spanish unless some had remained on the continent the entire time. Today researchers question historical records–written with Inquisition censorship–that claim the Spanish brought the first horses to America. Even so, if no horses remained when the Conquistadors arrived they would not be introducing the species but “returning” E.caballus to its native land.

“It’s time for land managers to come out of the dark ages–use native wild horses to heal the land and reverse desertification,” states Novak. “We’d like to see the BLM manage the land using wild horses as a resource in partnership with the New Energy Frontier–at virtually no cost to the taxpayer.”

In 1900 there were 2 million wild horses roaming in freedom in America. Today native wild horses are underpopulated on the range. Advocates estimate there are less than 18,000 left in the ten western states combined.

Protect Mustangs is a conservation group devoted to protecting native wild horses. Their mission is to educate the public about the indigenous wild horse, protect and research American wild horses on the range and help those who have lost their freedom.

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NAS Study Review

Media Contacts:

Anne Novak 415.531.8454 Anne@ProtectMustangs.org

Kerry Becklund, 510-502-1913  Kerry@ProtectMustangs.org

Links of interest: 

Washington Post: Independent panel: Wild horse roundups don’t work; use fertility drugs, let nature cull herds http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/energy-environment/independent-panel-to-recommend-changes-in-blm-wild-horse-program/2013/06/05/b65ba772-cdb3-11e2-8573-3baeea6a2647_story.html

Congressional letter requesting an NAS investigation: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxhbWVyaWNhbmhlcmRzNHxneDo1ZTFlMDQ1MzY4MzZiMzI3&pli=1

Information on native wild horses: http://protectmustangs.org/?page_id=562

NAS Press release June 5, 2013: http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=13511

NAS Report: Using Science to Improve the BLM Wild Horse & Burro Program: A Way Forward http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13511

Sacramento Bee, Panel: Sterilize wild horses to cut population  Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/06/06/5475171/study-sterilize-horses-to-drop.html#storylink=cpy

GonaCon press release spins wild horse overpopulation myths: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/2013/02/horse_vaccine_approval.shtml

ZonaStat-H EPA Pesticide Fact Sheet: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/chem_search/reg_actions/pending/fs_PC-176603_01-Jan-12.pdf

Princeton University: Wildlife and cows can be partners, not enemies, in the search for food http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S32/93/41K10/index.xml?section=featured

Gone viral~ The Associated Press, March 24, 2013: Budget axe nicks BLM wild-horse adoption center http://www.denverpost.com/colorado/ci_22862206

US property exposed to wildfire valued at $136 billion says report: http://www.artemis.bm/blog/2012/09/17/u-s-property-exposed-to-wildfire-valued-at-136-billion-says-report/

KQED Horse fossil found in Caldecott Tunnel: http://science.kqed.org/quest/2011/05/26/new-fossils-from-the-caldecott-tunnel/

Horseback Magazine: Group takes umbridge at use of the word “feral” http://horsebackmagazine.com/hb/archives/19392

Protect Mustangs in the news: http://protectmustangs.org/?page_id=218

Protect Mustangs’ press releases: http://protectmustangs.org/?page_id=125