PZP (AKA birth control for wild horses)

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve been hearing a lot about PZP lately. For those of you that don’t know, PZP is the birth control they give to some wild mares. I’m all for PZP in theory. What I have a problem is the way it is applied. For example, PZP can sometimes seem like it is being used a substitute for proper management techniques. Specifically, the use of branding and the implications that go with it.

Let me first talk about why PZP in my opinion is a valuable management tool that should be developed in more herds. I’ve mentioned on this blog before that I think natural selection is the best way to manage herds. However, I also realize that since the places where wild horses have lived for generations are fenced off, ergo management practices need to be put in place. Which means if PZP used rather than removing horses than that would be an appropriate way to manage the horses.

Admittedly, you may be wondering that if I’m all for PZP why am I concerned with branding? After all, the BLM is doing their job by making sure they document which horses received PZP at the last round-up, right? Sure if they used the brands for monitoring purposes, but as far as I know there hasn’t been research done to see if the drug is working properly in the herds that use branding not to mention that they had to round-up the horses in the first place to brand them, thus completely negating the purpose of PZP in the first place.

Perhaps I’m not being fair, so let’s assume for these purposes that the BLM doesn’t have enough personnel to monitor the range on a weekly basis or to give them enough time to ID each horse they gave PZP to. If that were true, then would branding be justifiable? Maybe, although since there could be potential for camera/digital documentation is possible I’m not convinced. If hypothetically, they wanted to make sure a mare got the correct amount of PZP they could take a picture of her at the round-up that it was first administered and have it for a reference the next time PZP needed to be applied.

SO, those are my thoughts although I have only scratched the surface of a much larger issue. An issue that I most likely will not be able to cover in this humble blog alone. Also, as always, if anyone has any thoughts on this please let me know in the comments section of this blog. Keep in mind that there are several different directions that I could have gone with this post and I specifically chose branding. One last thought about branding is that there are herds that use PZP without rounding up the horses to administer it. Not only that, but they have clear documentation of when and how much PZP the mare has been given.

A mare that that was removed from the Pryor Mountains despite PZP being used. Another issue that confuses me, but may be for another post.

A mare that was removed from the Pryor Mountains despite PZP being used. Another issue that confuses me, but may be for another post.

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