Thursday, August 26, 2010

PZP in the Pryors

The Cloud Foundation

Comments on BLM's Plan to Extend Infertility Drug Use through 2015 due by September 16th

Dear Cloud Supporters;

Mark your calendars. Comments regarding a five-year plan to continue the use of Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP) infertility drugs on Pryor wild horse mares are due on September 16. The initial scoping letter from the Billings BLM was mailed on August 18.

As a result of aggressive infertility applications delivered via shots last fall and dart guns this spring, 52 mares on the mountain are cycling monthly (coming into estrous or heat), being bred, and defended by their band stallions.
The long-time buckskin stallion, Chino, is now a bachelor
Makendra and I were in the Pryors last week for 5 days and I witnessed more societal disruption than I have seen in over 16 years of documenting these horses. Currently, it is a herd in chaos. 60% of the 18 bands we observed have had some kind of disruption. Three band stallions have lost their families all together. Some band stallions have benefitted from the intense competition—like Cloud, who won a new mare. This high degree of disruption has taken place just since our last visit in July.

Let me say that interchange among the Pryor wild horse bands is common—probably more so than in most herds in the West. There is a reason for this. The majority of the family bands come to the mountaintop in the summer, to a relatively small area. Here, in the beautiful sub-alpine meadows, bands regularly graze and roam only 100 yards apart. In contrast, bands are commonly miles apart in other herds. Add to this close contact situation, a sex ratio artificially altered when 32 females and only 22 males were removed during the massive September 2009 roundup.

Then, factor in the monthly heat cycles of 52 females on birth control (40 mares given PZP-22—22 months of infertility—during the round up in 2009, and 10 more mares receiving the one-year drug remotely by the Pryor Mustang Center under the direction of BLM).
Flint, Jasper and Agate just minutes before Flint lost the band
The result is a herd in social disarray. Saddest for me was Flint’s loss. When he unwisely tried to capture an older mare in heat, he lost his family to a beefy grullo stallion. I hope Flint might win them back, but the grullo is far larger than Flint and seems determined to keep his prize of two mares (Feldspar and Heather), Flint’s yearling son, Jasper, and the two filly foals, Agate and Amber (I called this little family ‘the Flintstones’). 
Young foals can be injured as stallions fight to win mares & breed them monthly
The timing of BLM’s scoping letter is ironic. It requests comments on a plan to continue giving infertility drugs through 2015. Based on what we saw on our last trip this seems unconscionable.

The Pryor herd is currently a genetically non-viable one. The population, which includes well under 150 breeding adults, begs the point of population control. Any drugs to suppress population growth should not be given at this time. (Read more here about the Cloud Foundation’s position on the use of infertility drugs on wild horse herds.)

What we will be proposing to BLM is a sea change in the “breeding farm” mentality that threatens the future of the herd as we know it. What we mean by a “breeding farm mentality” is attempting to control factors artificially that are normally regulated by the laws of nature—i.e. natural selection as opposed to human selection of who lives and dies and reproduces. With this in mind we will be making these recommendations:

  1. Immediately begin serious discussions with the Custer National Forest Acting Supervisor, Mary Erickson, to discuss the legal expansion of the Pryor wild horse herd boundaries to include their current and historic use areas beyond the BLM/Forest Service boundary atop the mountain. (See range expansion background and initiative).
  2. Conduct meetings with Wyoming and Montana Fish and Game to encourage the agencies to reduce the hunting of mountain lions within the PMWHR. (See natural management paper).
  3. Only consider the use of the one-year remotely delivered PZP when the herd is back in the minimally viable range of 150-200 adults two-years old or older. Use the one-year drug only selectively rather than giving the drug to every mare in the herd. Use the drug at the optimum time of year to avoid out-of-season births. Do not use any infertility drugs on yearling fillies.
  4. Make the determination of using the one-year drug on a year-by-year basis so that immediate cessation can take place if predation begins regulating the population naturally as it did in 2001-2005.
  5. Allow wild horses, who become unwell on the range due to natural versus human related activities, to die on the range. Of course, if horses are discovered down they should be humanely euthanized. But, removing, rehabbing, and re-introducing them only serves to potentially weaken the herd.
Cloud's nine year-old black mare has never foaled after receiving PZP as a yearling & two-year-old
Click here for a sample letter you can send to BLM to give them your opinion on their scoping letter- BLM is not accepting comments via e-mail, but you can email your comments to The Cloud Foundation and we'll mail or fax them to the BLM.

Please help us fight for this precious herd and their right to live free on the land of their birth with as little interference from man as is possible! Thanks.

Happy Trails,

Bolder & Texas, a ten year-old mare who has foaled only once - PZP'd again last fall in the roundup
You are receiving this email because you have asked to be on our e-mail list. If you have received this e-mail in error, please unsubscribe. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience!

Unsubscribe from this list.

Our mailing address is:
The Cloud Foundation 107 South 7th St Colorado Springs, CO 80905

Our telephone:

Copyright (C) 2008 The Cloud Foundation All rights reserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment