“Plug pulled” on contraceptive plan in Nevada herd, says group

Wild horses in Nevada. © BLM
Wild horses in Nevada. © BLM

A nonprofit group which opposed the use of the contraceptive drug PZP to control wild horse numbers in a Nevada herd says federal authorities have “pulled the plug” on the program.

The dispute over the herd in the Fish Springs area of Gardnerville highlights a fundamental rift among wild horse supporters – those who advocate for the use of fertility control measures and those who are opposed to their use.

In 2014, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved a pilot project, joining with the Pine Nut Wild Horse Advocates in a public-private partnership to control the herd population around Fish Springs. However, the advocacy group Friends of Animals threatened to sue if PZP was used.

Friends of Animals said this week that the BLM had revoked its April 3, 2014, decision, around the project pilot, asserting the agency did so because of pressure from the group and the threat of legal action.

Friends of Animals asserted the the project suffered “legal deficiencies”.

It had earlier taken court action, obtaining a court ruling that the BLM’s decision to permanently remove horses from the nearby Pine Nut Mountains herd management area and to implement fertility dosing was made without conducting an adequate analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Shortly after that decision, the BLM voluntarily withdrew its 2014 management plan.

Friends of Animals was poised to file a second lawsuit this week over PZP if the BLM did not immediately put an end to the darting of wild horses in or near Fish Springs under the project. These are horses that have wandered from the designated herd management area on to private lands.

Its president, Priscilla Feral, said the group was happy to have stopped the use of the drug.

The group wildlife law program director, Michael Harris, said: “It now looks as if BLM’s withdrawing its 2014 management plan involving a roundup and PZP, was somewhat disingenuous.

“True, BLM has not implemented the roundup, or drugged any mares on public lands. Instead, they dusted off an even older plan — the Fish Springs PZP Pilot Program — in an attempt to drug the Pine Nut mares without complying with the court decision or NEPA.”

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