Alliance Works to Control Wild Horse Fertility

A non-hormonal contraceptive, porcine zona pellucida (PZP), has given birth to an alliance between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). The two organizations agreed to work together on using this drug to control the wild horse population at a November 2005 meeting in Santa Fe, N.M.

The HSUS holds a Federal Drug Administration (FDA) Investigational New Drug Permit for PZP. The partnership allows the BLM to use PZP in non-commercial, experimental settings without FDA approval.

According to the USDA, PZP is an intramuscular immunocontraceptive agent that uses the immune system rather than hormones to prevent fertilization. It is derived from pig zona pellucida, a membrane that forms around an ovum as it develops.

The BLM estimates that more than 32,000 wild equids roam public land in 10 western states. There are currently about 25,000 wild equids in holding facilities that cost the BLM about $39.6 million during fiscal year 2005. Half of those funds were used to house animals in holding facilities--each animal cost taxpayers about $500 per year. The BLM price for PZP is $200 per horse annually, according to an Albuquerque Tribune report.

"The BLM sees this as a way to reduce horse removals (from government land), to place fewer horses in short and long-term holding facilities, and to achieve budgetary savings," said Don Glenn, acting director of the Wild Horse and Burro Program, in a HSUS press release.

About the Author

Chad Mendell

Chad Mendell is the former Managing Editor for .

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