The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unlawfully rejected an animal rights group’s request to consider banning a horse birth control drug, according to a federal judge.
U.S. District Judge Michael Simon has ruled the EPA violated administrative law with its “arbitrary and capricious” decision not to conduct a special review of porcine zona pellucida, or PZP, which is used to control wild horse populations on federal lands.
However, while the EPA must reconsider its denial of a petition from the Friends of Animals nonprofit, the judge will not require the agency to suspend PZP’s registration as a pesticide, which would have halted its usage.
Though the ruling doesn’t stop PZP usage, Friends of Animals considers the decision “a big win” because the judge has effectively said the EPA must take the group’s allegations seriously, said Michael Ray Harris, the nonprofit’s attorney.
“He’s telling them there’s enough evidence here that they can’t just blow it off,” Harris said. “Whenever you get an opinion like this, it means you’ve got evidence.”
The judge would not have sent the matter back to EPA for reconsideration just to waste taxpayer dollars, so the agency won’t likely want to get “hammered” in court again for disregarding new evidence about PZP, he said.
Friends of Animals ultimately wants to stop PZP usage on wild horses, preferring that federal land managers give them more space to roam rather than rely on birth control, Harris said.
Federal managers could also discourage the killing of predators, especially cougars, which would then control wild horse populations while curbing overgrazing and overbreeding, he said…(CONTINUED)