Over 19,000 citizens from every state in the nation signed AWHPC’s petition urging the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) Northeastern Great Basin Resource Advisory Council  (RAC) to endorse a pilot program for the use of PZP birth control as a humane and cost-effective alternative to removing wild horses from the range.  RAC member Jeanne Nation’s, who represents wild horse and burro advocacy on the advisory council, proudly presented the petitions at the RAC’s October 16, 2014 meeting, along with her proposal for a pilot, Catch/Treat/Release (CTR) fertility control program for wild horses living in the Antelope Herd Management Area (HMA), which surrounds her ranch.

Attending the meeting to make presentations about PZP fertility control were Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick, director of the Billings-based< a href=”http://www.sccpzp.org/” target=”_blank”>Science and Conservation Center, and Neda DeMayo, AWHPC and Return to Freedomfounder. Kirkpatrick is the world’s leading authority on humane wildlife management through PZP birth control, and DeMayo pioneered the use of PZP in a sanctuary setting to keep wild horse social bands intact, allowing stallions to remain with their families at the Return to Freedom sanctuary in Lompoc, CA.  Laura Leigh of Wild Horse Education also made a presentation at the meeting, addressing the topic of trap site adoptions.

The result, in Nations’ words: “We knocked the ball out of the park!” The presentations were excellent, informative and well received, and the RAC unanimously endorsed Nation’s PZP pilot program. In addition, the RAC voted in favor of sending a letter to the Interior Department recommending that CTR birth control programs be implemented statewide as a first option and cost-effective approach to wild horse management.

It took the BLM’s significant reduction in the number of horses removed from the range to bring all parties to the table in support of alternative solutions.  The BLM is using PZP on a limited basis in a small number of HMAs, including, in partnership with AWHPC, on the Fish Springs wild horses outside the Pine Nut HMA near Gardnerville, NV.

The RAC’s recommendation is a hopeful sign for wider implementation of this proven technology, which was recommended by the National Academy of Sciences in its June 2013 report, “Using Science to Improve the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program: A Way Forward.”

“It’s the first step of one thousand miles,” Nations said, paraphrasing the often-cited quotation. AWHPC shares her enthusiasm and is pleased to have played a small role in this progress by gathering the petition signatures to document public support and by helping to sponsor Dr. Kirkpatrick’s trip to the meeting. We also are grateful to Jeanne for all her hard work in helping to change BLM policy and protect the wild horses that she has come to love and whose lives she so beautifully documents through her photography.

Photos from top: Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick holding small dart used to remotely vaccinate wild horses with PZP birth control; RAC member Jeanne Nations, shown here with her horse Rockford, holding some of the thousands of petition signatures endorsing her fertility control proposal for Antelope HMA wild horses; Neda DeMayo practices shooting PZP dart gun as Dr. Kirkpatrick looks on.