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

Conversation about fertility control with Brett Hass, retired biologist previously with NSA (part 1)

Don’t let pesticides like Gonacon™, PZP or SpayVac® manage native wild horses to extinction. The Spin Dr.’s and some ignorant horse advocates are pushing fertility control on underpopulated wild horses. Know the truth and expose those spewing the spin.

PM Gonacon Pesticide Fact Sheet

Read the entire Gonacon™ Pesticide Fact Sheet


John Cox: Brett, you’re a retired biologist, previously with the NSA for how many years?

Brett Hass: 46 long years John. We met in Vietnam, when we a lot younger my friend (smiles). We were doing wildlife and vegetation studies in your AO (area of operations). That was my first assignment with the NSA, as a matter of fact.

John Cox: Let’s cut through all of that. What do you think of Gonacon™ and some of the other fertility controls BLM is using?

Brett Hass: As usual, and as government agencies do and BLM and DOI are extremely guilty, they pretend that science guides its wild horse and burro management strategies. So the agencies involved go forth and resolve issues, supposedly, with experimental drugs–in this case GonaCon™. The question is, in reality, does it resolve anything at all, or is it simply to further experimentations with this drug and the wild horses the most expendable of situations currently?

The problem is very obvious, with the first-time use of an experimental drug, they act like children with a new toy–but this toy is extremely dangerous, to not only the horses and actually lead them to extinction, but the environmental consequences are apparently neglected entirely? (shakes his head negatively). . .

But let’s get real, the very absence of science contradicts any time of sound reasoning for its use whatsoever. So once again we have a government agency, using a Nazi-Type experimental fertility drug on horses and other wildlife–without knowing, or even acknowledging for that matter, what the long-term consequences are–or in perception–the problems that will arise in its actual use.

There is no resolution, as I reviewed the population situation and see first hand there is no over-population if wild horses just within the BLM numbers alone; but livestock, that is a completely different matter, in reality.

John Cox: In your appraisal of the information you’ve read, would you, as a tenured Wildlife Biologist for over 50 years, use this drug?

Brett Hass: Absolutely not! There is no pertinent reasoning to use it right now and especially on wild horses or much of anything else for that matter. Our wildlife and environment is simply too important to be so frivolous with such activity, especially an unknown situation, as fertility drugs used in our natural environment. But as you say, ignorance is quite something, and our government seems to portray ignorance quite well, and frankly the only situation they seem to be competent to accomplish.

Much more on this discussion with Brett Hass later . . .


Below is the original PZP Pesticide Fact Sheet before HSUS seems to have lobbied the EPA to make changes to the chemical class. It’s still only approved as a pesticide to manage pests. PZP is made from slaughterhouse pig ovaries mixed with modified freund’s complete adjuvant.

PM PZP Test mares

(American wild horses used in fertility control experiments)

© John Cox, printed with permission

John Cox is a Vietnam Vet, living in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest who writes about the environment. He’s passionate about saving America’s wild horse herds and wolves. 

Read John Cox’s blog at: https://prophoto7journal.wordpress.com

Have you read about the Gonacon™ Experiment on the Water Canyon herd and the UNLUCKY 11 orphans? It all started as a PZP proposal and went down the slippery slope. . .  Read about it here: http://protectmustangs.org/?p=8488

PZP discussion and information

Fish Creek Mares Indian Lakes aka Broken Arrow 2015

Rebuttal of Misinformation Posted by Pro-PZP Entities
Issue # 1. Criticism of devoted scientists and advocates

Discussion: Sometimes the truth hurts, and sometimes the only way to wake misguided people out of their imaginations is to speak in the strongest of terms.
Issue # 2. Self-regulating herds.

Discussion: The pro-PZP groups parrot the BLM line that there is an insufficient number of large predators to effectively control wild horse populations. But what happened to the predators? They have been virtually exterminated due to excessive hunting by sportsmen and excessive culling by Wildlife Services, which kills on behalf of public lands ranchers. Instead of joining with conservation organizations and animal protection groups that are fighting for the predators, the PZP adherents want us to accept defeat. We won’t. We believe in a thriving natural ecological balance, which must include predators, large and small.
Issue # 3. Impact on genetics and social structure.

Discussion: The pro-PZP groups say it is too late, that the herds have already been genetically and socially disrupted by decades of roundups, removals, and relocations. Their solution? PZP. Thus, we are essentially being told that underpopulated herds suffering from genetic decline should have their numbers further reduced and their mares eventually rendered sterile. We say, “Absolutely not.” The answer is to fight for the herds, for viable populations, for genetic diversity, for normal behavior, for natural fertility.
Issue # 4. Economics.

Discussion: Pro-PZP groups want us to accept BLM’s mismanagement as a fact and learn to live with it. They say we should let wild fillies and mares be slowly sterilized. Using PZP will, “over time” reduce removals, they claim. If only that were so. A review of BLM’s population estimates for herds scheduled for gathers this year showed case after case of dizzingly inflated numbers, even for years in which PZP would have been at maximum effect. BLM is not a trusted partner! BLM is using PZP to accelerate the demise of the herds, combining slow sterilization with massive removals on any pretext. The pro-PZP groups are unwittingly playing into BLM’s nefarious schemes to wipe out the wild horses and burros.
Issue # 5. Whether PZP is a pesticide.

Discussion: The EPA classifies PZP as a pesticide for use on non-food animal pests. It exerts a contraceptive effect by inflamming the ovaries, causing ovarian dystrophy, destroying oocytes in growing follicles, and depleting resting follicles. The EPA warns that PZP is a biohazard are advises women that accidental injection could cause infertility. The EPA cautions pregnant women to avoid handling PZP, despite PZP’s supposed non-interference with a pregnancy in progress. Thus, the possibility is raised of harm to an unborn child by exposure to PZP in the womb.
Anne-Marie Pinter” The crux of this is; multiple attacks on the immune system; stress then a stimulant…..then you have the makings of “Autoimmune disease” as it is termed in today scientific world; “Autoimmune diseases are due to an overacting immune system, that starts attacking their own body”
Issue # 6. Whether PZP-22 is the best answer, if fertility control is to be used.

Discussion: No. PZP-22 has the same adverse-effects profile, except it is longer acting. Once “native” PZP opened the door to artificial population control, BLM looked for ways to make it last longer so they would have less work to do. Thus, one-year PZP is often rejected as “not feasible” and “not practical”. For the most part, BLM wants to keep holding helicopter roundups on a rotating basis every four years, as they’ve been doing. In BLM’s ideal world, they would continue conducting helicopter gathers to catch and corral the mares, shoot them up with “PZP-48”, remove most of the herd anyway based on exaggerated population estimates, and then retire to their offices to sit back for another four years.
Issue # 7. Whether “native” PZP is a sterilant.

Discussion: Ultimately, yes. But if a filly or mare has a strong immune system, even the first immuno-vaccination could provoke such a powerful immune response that she would immediately be rendered permanently sterile. With multiple consecutive injections, sterility is pretty much a certainty. Exceptions would be mares with a weak or depressed immune system, which would not respond to the PZP. That’s why some mares get pregnant in spite of PZP, and why PZP inadvertently selects for immumo-compromised horses. Over time, herd health would suffer and the population could be wiped out by an inability to fight off disease.
Issue # 8. Whether PZP is a chemical contraceptive and whether it poses a significant risk to inoculated mares and their foals.

Discussion: PZP is a chemical, classified by the EPA as a pesticide, approved for use against “feral” horses deemed to be pests. Let it be understood that our wild horses are Federal, not feral. PZP works to provoke an immune response that has been shown to target the ovaries, causing inflammation and dystrophy. PZP destroys oocytes in growing follicles and depletion of resting follicles. So, yes, it does pose a significant risk to mares injected with such a powerful and destructive “vaccine.” Because pregnant women are strictly warned against handling PZP, even though PZP is said not to interfere with a pregnancy already in existence, the possibility of ovarian or testicular degeneration in the developing embryo or fetus is of concern. Therefore, a pregnant mare’s unborn foal could potentially be affected. The cautionary principle would call for rejection, not injection, of such a substance.
Issue # 9. Whether PZP causes ovarian damage and other pathologies.

Discussion: Yes, it does. The pro-PZP groups endeavor to differentiate “native” PZP from other PZP formulations and claim that “native” PZP works completely differently from the rest of the PZPs and ZPs. Not so. Recent studies have disproven the theory that ZPs block fertilization. Instead, ZP vaccines cause ovarian dystrophy, oophoritis (inflammation of the ovaries), destruction of oocytes in all growing follicles, and depletion of resting follicles. That is why, regardless of PZP type, it takes years for fertility to be restored (if ever) and why eventual sterilization occurs with certainty after multiple inoculations. Kirkpatrick, Liu, Turner, et al. (1992) found that ” … three consecutive years of PZP treatment may interfere with normal ovarian function as shown by markedly depressed oestrogen secretion.”


Certainly ovarian damage should have been suspected 23 years ago and investigated, in light of “markedly depressed oestrogen secretion” in PZP-treated mares. Yet despite the developer’s own finding in 1992 that PZP appeared to “interfere with normal ovarian function,” the product was promoted as a safe vaccine that merely blocked fertilization. Recent independent studies, based on examining the reproductive organs of sacrificed experimental animals [note: whether they were “sacrificed” to determine the organ-damage has to be verified], revealed the ovarian destruction, clearly disproving the previous assumption.
Issue # 10. Whether PZP is paving the way for use in humans.

Discussion: No, it’s not. Interesting choice of argument that PZP’s 95 percent efficacy rate would be too low for human contraception. Compare PZP’s rate with that of birth control pills, which are only 91 percent effective unless perfect compliance is achieved, no conflicting medications are taken, and no conflicting health issues are present. And compare PZP’s efficacy rate to that of condoms. With typical use, 85 percent of women relying on prophylactics worn by their partners successfully prevent pregnancy. Interesting choice of argument also in comparing PZP to the influenza vaccine, whose efficacy is reportedly in the 10-60 percent range.

Issue #11: Whether 150 is the lowest viable population of a wild horse herd to be genetically healthy.

Discussion: The International Union for Conservation of Nature has determined that 2,500 is the minimun viable population for a wild horse herd. A recent meta-analysis suggested that number should be doubled. Interestingly, the Pryor Mountain herd, which the pro-PZP groups cited, is in genetic decline, according to the most recent report from Dr. Cothran. His recommendation? Increase the size of the herd.
Issue #12: Whether or not the NAS recommended fertility control in Federal wild horse herds.

Discussion: The NAS researchers were prohibited by BLM from collecting their own data. They were required to base their recommendations on BLM’s wild horse population estimates, which are exaggerated by more than double. So, it was to be expected that NAS would recommend fertility control. What else could they be expected to do?


The Example of Assateague Island National Seashore
Examining PZP through the eyes of the Assateague horses themselves:

Horses have not been handled.

Reply: Right. They are shot with a dart gun, so human hands do not touch them, although the PZP causes their ovaries to become inflamed.

Mortality rates have declined significantly, especially among foals.

Reply: Nature operates by survival of the fittest, which means those that are not fit, perish. Reduced mortality may not correlate with a herd being self-sustaining because most of the herd is not reproducing.

Body condition scores have improved.

Reply: Mares in good or improving body condition have a hugely increased tendency to produce colts. This could lead to a gender imbalance. Having too many colts negatively impacts the genetic diversity of a herd.

Longevity has increased dramatically, with mares living three times longer than pre-PZP.

Reply: Longevity, combined with sterility, reduces a herd’s viability in both the short-term and the long-term. Here’s the analogy. On average, American women live about 75 years. If PZP caused them to live three times longer, for 225 years, would that be a good thing if none were allowed to have more than one child?
Discussion: Let’s take a look at another East Coast wild horse herd being managed on “native” PZP: Corolla. The low population limits imposed on that herd have led to birth defects. To increase gene pool diversity, a stallion from the Curritick herd, 150 miles south of Corolla, was translocated. However, he may never win a band and, besides, the mares are contracepted, which makes his job more difficult.


Issue #13: Whether PZP inoculations can introduce pathogens, and whether administering PZP will cause laminitis, resulting in horses’ hooves to fall apart.

Discussion: This is a two-part issue. As for the first part, yes, it is possible for any inoculation, including PZP, to introduce pathogens. However, the second part appears to be a straw man story invented by pro-PZP parties and falsely attributed to PZP’s critics.
Issue #14: Whether PZP-mares stay in perpetual estrus, causing unrest in the herd.

Discussion: The incorrect word above is “perpetual.” Studies have found that mares on PZP have more estrus events and cycle beyond the normal breeding season. Mares in estrus give off pheromones [note: verify this], which are attractants for stallions. With more estrus events occurring in his mares, the band stallion will likely experience more challenges to his leadership. Yes, foals can get hurt when stallions do battle. A recent study by Ransom et al. showed that herds managed by PZP have a breeding season of 341 days. So, by “perpetual” we mean nearly year-round: 365 days minus 24 days.
Issue #15: Whether pharmaceutical companies are involved with the Assateague Herd project and other native PZP projects.

Discussion: This appears to be a straw man accusation. Pharmaceutical companies have no interest in PZP in any of its various iterations because of the long time it takes to restore fertility (four to eight years), the risk of irreversible sterility, and as has been pointed out, the prospect of settling bad-drug lawsuits.
Issue #16: Predation is the only viable ecological solution.

Discussion: To have a thriving, natural ecological balance (TNEB), an ecosystem must have predators.
Issue #17: The allegation that anti-PZP groups claim PZP, specifically “native” PZP, is patented.

Response: This appears to be another straw man accusation. ZonaStat-H is a proprietary product registered with the EPA by the Humane Society of the United States. It is possible that some persons confused “proprietary” with “patented.” Merck originally held the patent but let it lapse due to the adverse effects listed herein.
Issue #18: Some organizations appear to support perpetuating the problem or creating a new problem.

Response: If your income or your funding depends on there being a problem, you will do things that keep that problem going or create new problems to take its place. Once PZP has sterilized one herd after another, and once BLM zeroes out such HMAs, then these groups will surely take up a new rallying cry: Recreate the herds! They’ll say that no one knows why the herds are dying out (yes, you do; it was the PZP), but let’s sign petitions to bring in substitute horses to reinvent such and such herds. Of course the original herd and its unique genetics will be lost forever, but now these groups will have a new life with a new cause.
Issue #19: BLM is not managing wild horse HMAs according to the Law.

Response: The clear intent of the Act was that mustangs would benefit from the principal use of their dedicated range and its resources. Yet, within 98 percent of their legally designated habitats, wild horses and burros are relegated to a minority share of the forage.
Issue #20: Wild horse sanctuaries are pale imitations of real wild horse herds.

Response: The Law provides for eco-sanctuaries. They are called HMAs. The need for private sanctuaries is due to BLM’s mismanagement, to inadequate AMLs, to removals in numbers that deluge the adoption market.


© Protect Mustangs, May 17, 2015

PZP advocates put wild horses at risk of sterilization after roundup

Stop the Roundups!

Protect Mustangs calls for a freeze on roundups for scientific reevaluation

Tonopah, NV (October 31, 2014)–The Battle Mountain District, Tonopah Field Office is rounding up about 120 wild horses from within the Reveille Allotment and Herd Management Area (HMA) located approximately 50 miles east of Tonopah, NV to remove alleged excess wild horses on 600,000 acres of public land.

“The BLM is wiping out America’s wild horses and taxpayers are paying for the abuse,” states Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs. “We need to stop the roundups and protect our native wild horses.”

The roundup will stampede native wild horse families by helicopter over a fragile ecosystem and possible sage grouse habitat in the Great Basin Desert. Often wild horses are injured and die in roundups. The treacherous roundup is paid for with tax dollars, and began October 30, 2014. Most herds need to be rounded up before given PZP.

After the roundup, approximately 70 wild horses will be permanently removed, 60 wild horses will be sent to holding facilities in Ridgecrest, California and about 10 horses will be offered for adoption after the roundup in Tonopah, NV on November 8. The remaining 50 wild horses will be released back into the HMA for a post roundup population of 98 wild horses, putting the survivors at risk. The minimum number for genetic variability is 150 wild horses.

Often the BLM returns wild horses with conformation defects to the range, instead of placing them in adoptive homes or long-term holding where they will not breed. Apparently the agency doesn’t realize that by returning wild horses with defects they will ruin the breeding pool. The BLM claims mares selected to maintain herd characteristics will be released back to the HMA. The public must watchdog the agency to ensure wild horses with defects are pulled from the breeding pool and rehomed. Euthanizing them is not an option supported by the American public.

The informed public is outraged over an EPA approved restricted use pesticide called PZP, made from pigs ovaries, to be used on native wild horses. PZP advocates campaign rigorously to treat mares with the Porcine Zona Pellucidae (PZP-22) in order to temporarily sterilize mares. PZP advocates hail the use of PZP in spite of the fact that wild horses are underpopulated on millions of acres of public land.

Experimental research on ovary damage in mares given the immunocontraceptive PZP is used to hone the drug for eventual human use. This could be where the “follow the money” piece fits in. Wild horse advocates are furious America’s herds are being used as lab rats. Science has proven the drug sterilizes wild horses after multiple use. PZP advocates are pushing for BLM to manage wild horses “in the wild” using these risky drugs.

The devastation of wild horses in the Reveille Allotment appears to be subject to a 1987 District Court Order and two orders issued by the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) in 2001 and 2002, requiring BLM conduct an annual inventory of wild horses in the Reveille Allotment and initiate a roundup to remove alleged excess native horses from the Allotment when the inventory shows that population numbers exceed the out of date Appropriate Management Level (AML) of 138 horses.

Current AML does not represent healthy herd populations and lacks scientific merit. AML must be updated to ensure healthy herds remain on public land. The herd census must never fall below 150 wild horses to maintain genetic variability.

The current estimated population, based on previous inventory flights is 168 wild horses, according to BLM. This is the low end of the genetic viability scale. The orders need to be challenged based on scientific reevaluation of wild horses benefiting the ecosystem as a native species, livestock causing range damage and the minimum number of wild horses needed for genetic variability.

“We must ensure native wild horses can survive upcoming environmental changes,” states Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs. “The minimum population for a genetically variable herd is 150. Why are PZP advocates and the BLM allowing wild horse herds to fall below safe numbers?”

According to a press release from National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released June 5, 2013, “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.

The NAS report states there is “no evidence” of overpopulation. Only tobacco science and spin backs up BLM’s population claim to justify roundups and fertility control/sterilizations. PZP advocates lobbied NAS to have fertility control recommended even though the herds are underpopulated.

Roundup activities within the Reveille HMA were analyzed in the 2010 Reveille HMA Wild Horse Gather Plan and Environmental Assessment (EA) and the 2014 Reveille Wild Horse Gather Determination of NEPA Adequacy (DNA). The EA, DNA, and Decision Record can be accessed on the Reveille Wild Horse Gather website: http://on.doi.gov/10qLBlh.

Members of the public are encouraged to witness the helicopter stampede and document America’s icons losing their freedom to spread awareness that cruel roundups must stop. Observation protocols and visitor information are available at http://on.doi.gov/1xAMeTp. The BLM will post updates, photos and other information about the roundup on the Reveille website and on the hotline at 775-861-6700 throughout the course of the roundup.

The BLM is wiping out wild horses for the extractive industry and New Energy Frontier in the West. The agency manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM focuses on their mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2013, the BLM generated $4.7 billion in receipts from public lands.

BLM’s roundups disturb the thriving natural ecological balance by disturbing habitat dynamics. This crime against nature causes abnormally high birthrate and puts native wild horses at risk of inbreeding.

“We are calling for an immediate freeze on roundups and removals for scientific reevaluation,” states Novak. “Right now native wild horses are at risk of being ruined by bad policy.”

Protect Mustangs is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of native and wild horses. The group is against using PZP in the wild. Today most wild herds are threatened with low numbers and a lack of genetic variability. Using PZP in a sanctuary setting where acreage is limited is a different situation. Wild horses must not be managed in the wild as if they were a zoo exhibit.

# # #

Links of interest™:

Info on PZP sterilizing mares: The Effects of Porcine Zona Pellucida Immunocontraception on Health and Behavior of Feral Horses (Equus caballus), Princeton http://dataspace.princeton.edu/jspui/handle/88435/dsp01vt150j42p

Princeton study on the pros and cons of adoption and immunocontraception: http://www.equinewelfarealliance.org/uploads/IEC.Rubenstein.pdf Not sure about EWA’s position on PZP now they might have embraced it like some others have.

Jamie Jackson’s piece on PZP: http://protectmustangs.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/PM-Jamie-Jackson-Using_Science_to_Improve_the_BLM_Wild_Horse_and_Burro_Program.pdf

Management of Wild Horses with Porcinezona Pellucida Pellucide: History, Consequences and Future Strategies, Cassandra M.V. Nuñez, Princeton: http://bit.ly/1rJywKl

Restricted use pesticide info: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/chem_search/reg_actions/pending/fs_PC-176603_01-de info: Jan-12.pdf

Injection-Site Reactions in Wild Horses (Equus caballus) Receiving an Immunocontraceptive Vaccine, By James E. Roelle and Jason I. Ransom, http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2009/5038/

Pilot project to treat wild horses in Fish Springs communityhttp://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/info/newsroom/2014/april/blm_approves_pilot.html

and http://www.wildhorsepreservation.org/media/pzp-pilot-project-treat-wild-horses-fish-springs-community

BLM Nevada Advisory Council Endorses Fertility Control Plan (Oct. 20, 2014) http://www.returntofreedom.org/blm-nevada-advisory-council-endorses-fertility-control-plan-october20-2014/

BLM partners with The Cloud Foundation in the Pryorshttp://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/mt/main_story.Par.31432.File.dat/TopStoryHorse.pdf

Why end natural selection in the Pryors? http://protectmustangs.org/?p=4941

Are wild horses at risk of being sterilized due to an advocacy campaign? http://protectmustangs.org/?p=6356

Ecologist Craig Downer speaks out against using PZP in the Pryorshttp://protectmustangs.org/?p=4178

Horse contraceptive study raises concerns  Horsetalk, NZ: http://www.horsetalk.co.nz/news/2010/10/220.shtml#ixzz3Hti8ioCv

Appeal to stop the wild horse wipe outhttp://protectmustangs.org/?p=6527

The Horse and Burro as Positively Contributing Returned Natives in North America by Craig Downer PhD candidate: http://www.sciencepublishinggroup.com/journal/paperinfo.aspx?journalid=118&doi=10.11648/j.ajls.20140201.12

Wild Horse Conspiracy by Craig Downer:  www.amazon.com/dp/1461068983

Conformation defectshttp://www.thehorse.com/articles/10115/conformation-in-horses

Genetic viabilityhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_viability

Genetic variabilityhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_variability

J. Kirkpatrick team get $100K for wild horse fertility control drug PZPhttp://tuesdayshorse.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/jay-kirkpatrick-team-get-100k-for-wild-horse-fertility-control-drug-pzp/

Making PZP at The Science and Conservation Centerhttp://www.sccpzp.org

Native wild horseshttp://protectmustangs.org/?page_id=562

Petition for shelter and shade for captive wild horses and burroshttp://www.change.org/p/bring-emergency-shelter-and-shade-to-captive-wild-horses-and-burros

Petition for 10 year moratorium on wild horse roundups for recovery and studieshttps://www.change.org/p/sally-jewell-urgent-grant-a-10-year-moratorium-on-wild-horse-roundups-for-recovery-and-studies

Petition to defund and stop the wild horse roundupshttp://www.change.org/p/defund-and-stop-the-wild-horse-burro-roundups

Join the Walking Billboard Campaign to STOP THE ROUNDUPS in Nevadahttps://www.booster.com/protect-mustangs-nevada

Sample of viral news clippings: https://newsle.com/AnneNovak

Anne Novak on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheAnneNovak

Protect Mustangs on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ProtectMustangs

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ProtectMustangs