Horse Health

Ohio State veterinarian and engineer to research ‘improved’ contraception for wild horses

By Fran Jurga as published on The Equus
“The war against our native wild horses and burros takes on many faces as the BLM turns up the volume in it’s mission to mismanage our federally protected wild equines into extinction while catering to grazing, hunting, mining and other special interests.” ~ R.T.

On May 11, 2016, the BLM released new(?) statistics on the wild horse and burro population.

frankMarco Coutinho da Silva, DVM, MS, PhD, Diplomate ACT, associate professor-clinical of theriogenology and reproductive medicine in OSU’s Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, and Dr. John Lannutti, professor of Materials Science and Engineering in the College of Engineering, are collaborating in an effort to curb the overpopulation of wild horses  and burros in the United States, thanks to an $800,000 grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Wild horses and burros (WH&B) can be found roaming free in many western states. The animals have been federally protected since 1971 as part of the Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, which declares the animals “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the west.”

On May 11, 2016, the BLM released new statistics on the wild horse and burro population. In 1971, there were 25,000 WH&B on U.S. lands. Over the past few decades, the WH&B population has surged to an unprecedented 67,000, which is 40,000 more than the BLM’s Acceptable Management Level of 27,000 at which wildlife and livestock can live in balance with the animals.

Currently, the animals are rounded up every three years and given various treatments, one being a contraceptive. The contraceptive is in the form of a vaccine that contains porcine zona pellucida (PZP), which inhibits pregnancy by stimulating the creation of antibodies that prevent sperm from attaching to eggs….the propaganda continues here:


5 replies »

  1. And the plot thickens. Why is it that the BLM can continue to use our tax dollars and we are literally hog tied to do anything about it. Letters, emails, calls and the like have done little to overturn these actions. Cattle and other livestock continue to graze and rip out what little grass is left and overgraze. The BLM has their own good ol’boy network. One hand washes the other. I see the BLM like a cancer. Always spreading death and destruction. My question is who will be appointed as the next leader of the Dept of the Interior?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is an awful article and doesn’t give the facts at all. Instead of giving us tidbits from other articles and not doing any investigative reporting you just slam the one tool we have to manage horses ON the range. This division of advocates over PZP is only hurting the horses. With 469 mares treated last year….YES ONLY 469 why are we even wasting time talking about this?!?! BLM plans to sterilize more than twice that number, wild mares who are pregnant, causing death of mares and aborted foals. BLM plans to remove horses from 22 HMA’s for sage grouse habitat while at the same time refusing to remove cattle from those habitats. BLM is trying to get legislative authority to give horses, without limitation, to local, state and other federal agencies, opening the door to slaughter for the 58,000 currently in holding. THOSE are the issues, NOT PZP.


  3. University of Oregon in last place among comparable universities for grad rates, student-professor ratios, winning research grants

    The University of Oregon trails all or nearly all similar large public research universities in key metrics, including student-professor ratios, faculty success at winning research grants, undergraduate graduation rates and awarding of graduate degrees, a new report says.


  4. Mother Nature Knows Best, How to Manage Wild Horses (excerpts)
    An Interview Karen A. Sussman, President, The International Society For the Protection Of Mustangs and Burros–0501.html

    America’s wild horses, loved legendary dolphins of the land, are in a race to survive to be granted the right, to simply live, in peace, freedom and safety, upon America’s vast Bureau of Land Managed 245 million acres of public lands.

    A win-win solution is now on the table, with exciting research happening, at The International Society for The Protection of Mustangs and Burros, located in South Dakota and home to approximately 500 rescued heritage wild horses and originally founded by “Wild Horse Annie” Velma Johnston.

    An interview with ISPMB’s President, Karen A. Sussman, ISPMB’s “Natural Management” a successful solution:

    We have studied population growth in two of our herds, which we have had since 1999.

    It became apparent to us in 2009 that these herds were extremely stable after receiving our third herd, the Sheldon horses, in 2004 whose reproductive rates were 30% in the first two years which led us to use PZP on this herd. For those years in between, we had to sort out why the third herd was different from the first two. After years of observation of these herds, we came to the conclusion that the more stable the band structures the lower the population growth of those animals. Our first two herds have grown at lower than a 9% average yearly increase unlike the BLM’s herds that grow at a 20% increase.

    ISPMB had always been a supporter of PZP in the early years of the drugs existence in the middle 80’s. The last two herds, that we had gotten had the least amount of room at our facility so we felt that we should keep their population down. We had no reason not to support PZP, at that time, as we believed the literature that was out showing, the drug was reversible until after seven years with little side effects.

    As time went on, we began to hear that permanent sterility could happen at 5 years and we immediately ended the use of PZP at our facility. Our goal was conservation of rare and endangered gene pools of animals. Permanent sterility is not part of a conservation effort. The last application of PZP was in 2011. So far after 5 years of application, the Sheldon horses treated have not had a foal yet. The Virginia Range wild horses were treated for 4.5 years and 9 mares have foaled out of 36. Out of the 9 mares, seven foals died last year. This has created a red flag for us and we are now investigating the death of any foal born to a mare that had PZP.
    We asked for information from the researcher, Jay Kirkpatrick, but never received any study that had been done on horses foaling after coming off the drug. We received an e-mail stating they did not have any problems noted. There are still more studies to be accomplished here as we watch the Sheldon herd whose band formation was never cohesive until recently now that the younger mares are foaling.

    We also have noted that several original mares who have received PZP have stolen and continue to steal foals from first time mothers. This is very distressing because what it tells us is that these mares miss motherhood and want to have their own foals. The researchers have told our groups that the older mares who are treated are fatter and have a better condition score. I must question and say “But are they happy.”
    The last and most important part of applying birth control to wild herds is that we as human beings must make the decision who should receive contraception and who should not. This is very disconcerting because in the domestic horse industry, decisions about who should breed and who should not has created inbreeding in some of the breeds.
    According to Gus Cothran, leading equine geneticist, “Wild horses have more diversity compared to any particular breed of domestic horse.” How can we as human beings determine in wild horses who should breed and who should not.

    Nature does the best job and those that are the strongest continue the line. Those that are the weakest don’t make it. Lastly, 75% of the wild herds do not have a viable number of animals. We have half the number of horses we did in 1971. When we agree that birth control should be used on our herds, we are agreeing with the opposition that we have too many wild horses and we must do something to keep their numbers down. WE have been lulled into believing that if these herds have birth control, then they don’t have to be removed from public lands. That is not true. Removals are actually up in the past year. To give birth control on the larger herds, the horses will have to be gathered, branded, separated from their family bands, and then turned back. Disruption is what creates an increase in fertility and population growth! We will know more as out studies continue but PZP is not reversible in as few as four years. Is this what we want for our wild horses? We had a young Virginia Range mare that was accidentally given PZP. She was approximately 3 years old and to this day five years later she has never foaled. We are monitoring other herds where young animals are giving PZP finding out whether they can get pregnant again and if the foals survive or have any deformities.

    It is obvious that this is the natural progression that one would expect since the groups agreed that horses need PZP. In other words we are agreeing with the opposition that horses reproduce rapidly and reproduction must be halted. Of course the next logical step is permanent sterilization.

    Liked by 1 person

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