BLM to Start Wyoming Wild Horse Roundup Sunday, Agency Drops Controversial Experiment Plan
Washington, DC - Today the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) informed the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), a national coalition, that it has cancelled its plans to implement what AWHPC maintained was a dangerous experiment for herds of horses living in Wyoming’s North Lander Complex.
Last week, AWHPC attorney Katherine Meyer, of Meyer, Glitzenstein & Crystal, fired off a letter to the White House and top BLM officials urging immediate cancellation of the field experiment, which involved administering an experimental fertility-control drug, known as SpayVac, to 60 wild mares (female horses) during the North Lander roundup, which begins on Sunday.
“The BLM had proposed a dangerous experiment on wild Wyoming mares, subjecting them to an unproven fertility drug with possible deleterious side effects and potential irreversibility,” said Deniz Bolbol, AWHPC communications director. "We applaud the BLM for this responsible decision to cancel this experiment, as it allows the agency to gather the necessary data from pen trials in order to determine if a field trial of this drug on wild herds is prudent."
AWHPC had urged BLM to scrap the proposed study in favor of using the PZP fertility control vaccine, which has proven safe and effective over decades of research and use in the field.
In an email sent today, the BLM’s Lander Field Office informed AWHPC that the BLM was doing just that.
Meyer’s letter warned BLM that that insufficient research has been conducted on SpayVac use in horses, but the research data that is available indicates serious side effects from SpayVac. Among them: persistent uterine edema, which may make mares vulnerable to infections; abnormal estrus cycles; ovarian changes; and prolonged, and possibly permanent, infertility after just one shot.
Due to the lack of data on the safety and efficacy of SpayVac, the BLM itself began a 5-year study of the drug on captive horses at its Pauls Valley (Oklahoma) holding facility. The agency also asked the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to review SpayVac and other fertility control options as part of its overall review of the federal wild horse and burro program.
On May 3, 2012, the NAS hosted a public presentation on SpayVac. One participant, Dr. Irwin Liu, the NAS panel’s consultant on equine reproductive biology and physiology, noted that a published research paper indicated 100% of the 12 mares studied had excessive edema three years after the SpayVac drug had been administered. He warned that further research into the side effects and reversibility of SpayVac is needed.
AWHPC believes that the BLM should not proceed with a field trial of SpayVac, until the Pauls Valley pen trial, still 2.5 years from completion, is concluded.
The agency’s sale of thousands of wild horses to a known horse slaughterer was recently exposed. AWHPC has also been forced to repeatedly file lawsuits to stop the BLM from sterilizing wild horses. In a Wyoming lawsuit, AWHPC prevented the BLM from converting two wild free roaming horse populations to herds of castrated stallions. In Nevada, an AWHPC lawsuitstopped the agency from castrating hundreds of wild free roaming stallions and from “zeroing out” (eradicating all horses from) a designated Herd Area.
The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is a coalition of more than 50 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come.