Horse News

BLM Will Treat 3,000 Wild Mares with Fertility Drug After Decimating Herds by Capture

by Steven Long, Editor of Horseback Magazine

Victims of recent Pryor Mountain "gather" - Free one moment, imprisoned the next

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – The year 2010 will mark an enormous turning point in the history of America’s wild horses and burros as their caretaker, the federal Bureau of Land Management, launches an aggressive campaign to remove them from their wilderness homes.

The agency claims the horses are breeding at an alarming degree, destroying the land, and starving.

Animal welfare organizations such as the Chicago based Equine Welfare Alliance and the Cloud Foundation of Colorado Springs disagree and have launched a global petition drive to force a president who was elected on a platform of change to halt business as usual at the BLM and halt the capture of America’s wild horses.

If the roundups proceed, critics charge the herds may well be genetically bankrupt – unable to propagate in the wild. Horseback Magazine put the BLM on the record. The following is the response we got from national spokesman Tom Gory.

HORSEBACK MAGAZINE: How many wild horses will be left on BLM land after the 2010 gathers?

GORY: The on-the-range population will be approximately 34,000 after the 2010gather season.  This figure reflects the fact that herd populations grow atan average rate of 20 percent.

HORSEBACK: How many of the remaining mares in the wild will have been treated with fertility drugs?

GORY:  We are planning on treating approximately 3,000 mares for FY 2010.

HORSEBACK: Will any of the horse management areas set upin 1971 that currently serve as habitat to wild horse and burros be left bare of equines after the roundups?

GORY:  No HMAs that are currently maintaining horses will be bare of equines after the FY 2010 gather season.

HORSEBACK: What specifically is the relationship between the BLM and the Humane Society of the United States in terms of the use and supply of thefertility drug  PZP on wild horses?

Gory:  The BLM has an agreement with HSUS signed on 10/23/06.  The agreement states that the BLM agrees to:

1. Continue a cooperative relationship with the HSUS concerning thefurther development of contraceptive vaccines for use in controlling wildhorse populations.

2. Develop policies that promote and facilitate the use of contraception within the constraints of existing laws and regulations.  The goals of these policies are to:

a. reduce the growth rate of wild horse populations;

b. reduce the frequency of removal actions on wild horse herds;

c. reduce the number of animals that must be removed from the public rangelands; and

d. reduce the overall costs of wild horse management.

3. Monitor the effects and effectiveness of the use of fertility  control vaccine on wild horse populations, and keep the HSUS informed ofthe results of that monitoring.

HSUS agrees to:

1.   Ensure a reliable supply of contraceptive vaccine, including adjuvants and other components.

2.   Improve preparation and delivery methods for safe and effective application of the vaccine.

3.   Work towards increasing the effectiveness of the drug while ensuring its safety to humans and animals.

BLM and HSUS agree to:

1.   Educate and inform the public on the role that contraception can play in the management and control of wild horse populations on publiclands.

2.   Work toward meeting the EPA and/or the FDA requirements fornon-investigational use of the contraceptive vaccine.

3.   Meet annually at a minimum to review progress of provisions agreed to in this Memorandum Of Understanding. Consistent with that agreement, the BLM has a cooperative research project involving two HMAs that is funded by an Annanberg Foundation grant to look at:

1. What are the effects of the 22-month PZP vaccine on the population’s foaling and growth rates?

2. What are the effects of a PZP booster administered remotely in year 3 on the fertility of individual treated mares and on the population’s foaling and growth rates?

3.  What are the effects of PZP treatments on the health and social dynamics of treated bands?


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13 replies »

  1. Isn’t there some evidence that shows PZP does NOT work the way its “supposed to”? Resulting in out of season births? Won’t administering the “vaccine” still requires round ups? Shouldn’t they perfect the way the drug works and field darting procedures before putting such a drastic action into place?


  2. The caretaker of the Pryor horses that were waiting for adoption and auction proudly proclaimed when I was there that they gave plenty enough PZP to the mares that were released that they would probably always be sterile. Don’t know if that’s true but he sure was proud of that fact. It’s got to mess with their hormone balance in the best of worlds.


  3. Who was in charge of caring for the Pryor Mountain Mustangs while in custody? BLM employees? No wonder, they should be ashamed! History has shown- when man starts screwing with mother nature it never works out as planned. Killer Bees & Indian Blanket come to mind. How many times have we been told “Let nature take its course”, yet we still don’t learn.


  4. He is employed by the BLM, I believe, and lives in the house there. I don’t know if he’s there full time or just when they need him. He led me to believe that he was there fulltime. He wasn’t exactly Mr. Personality. I just let him talk–and that he did! I was there in September when they opened up the area for people to see the horses that were up for adoption.


  5. Thank you Linda for the info. Do you think that situation warrants an investigation? There are thousands more horses potentially awaiting the same fate. This just really ticks me off!


  6. That gives me the chills now, whenever I hear that they are going to give PZP to all the released mares. Yes, you’re probably right–but in the present frustration with gov’t agencies and with the BLM, where does this information need to go?


  7. I don’t know if any one person or agency can do anything about the BLM and its employees running roughshod over the horses and the laws put in place to protect them. I sure hope the abuse of power, appearing here on a public forum, will get somebodies attention. Hopefully all of our efforts to stop the removals will come to fruition soon. Maybe then we can have some accountability and justice for our horses and the American people.


  8. HSUS should be called out on this. Mares with Cloud have never given birth. That anyone admitted making an experiment with an experimental drug should be fired and maybe charged with abuse. This looks like the Last Hurrah for BLM; do all the damage possible before the Feds say stop. The horses in holding should be placed under the protection of the Justice Department. ASAP. Mar


    • It seems that they have had occassion to give the horses more than a ‘prescribed dose’ and this is rumor but some have been told about it here. It would be in keeping with what has happened. Older mares seem to still conceive after dosing. One and two year old fillies have been given doses and never have conceived. It seems it is not under any controls when used by BLM. Who knows about this?? Mar


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