A range of animal advocates and groups have spoken out against sterilization research and use of the contraceptive PZP in the management of America’s wild horses and burros.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the federal agency tasked with managing the nation’s wild horses, has been taking a closer interest in PZP in recent years.
The agency has allocated funding for several studies into contraceptive and sterilization options. The BLM has enlisted the help of specialists to conduct sterilization research on captive wild mares.
Now, a string of groups have voiced their opposition, saying they are taking a stand against experiments on wild horses and burros involving PZP and sterilization.
Christine DeCarlo, PhD, an advisory board member for Protect Mustangs, argued that the BLM was usurping the caretaking role it was mandated to uphold and was subjecting mares to what she called pernicious and needless reproduction experimentation.
“The universities they are funding to do this research must acknowledge that this would never be of use or value in the domestic horse industry,” she said.
“I believe their agenda needs to be investigated before they are paid to do irrevocable harm to these horses. They have already changed the genetics and natural herd behavior.”
Protect Mustang’s executive director, Anne Novak, said America’s wild horses were underpopulated on public lands.
“Even the National Academy of Sciences states there is ‘no evidence’ of overpopulation.
“The BLM’s arbitrary management levels are way too low for genetic diversity and survival,” she said. Fertility control and sterilization at this point endangered their survival, Novak argued.
“Now, the feds and special interest groups want to sterilize them and push them off public land.
“We offered to help adopt out all the pregnant mares from the last big Oregon roundup but our offer was ignored,” she said in reference to mares to be used in research. “The BLM doesn’t want to adopt out these wild horses they want to exploit them as lab animals.”
She claimed the bureau’s Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board was a joke. “It’s biased towards slaughter, sterilization, pesticides for birth control and cattle as well as experiments.”
Peter Souza, the founder of the Wolf, Wildlife, Wild Horse Action Group, said public land belonged to all Americans and not the livestock industry.
“There are five million cattle and very few wild horses.
“More than 80% of the American public wants our iconic wild horses to be wild and free – unencumbered by any government experimental birth control …. ovarian ligation or other heinous sterilizations.
“Wild horses manage their own numbers and we want them left alone.”
Rudy Al James, federal tribal judge for the Tlingkit Nation, said: “We the people of the Alaskan Tlingit Nation stand against the use of PZP and the sterilization of wild mustangs. Like the buffalo, the wolf, the bear and other animals, the horse is just as sacred to our people as The Bible is to Christians, The Koran to Muslims, Buddha to Buddhists.
“The use of PZP, ovarian ligation, or any form of sterilization would be considered sacrilege and an insult to our people and the majority of native people everywhere.”