Because of protection afforded by the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 and a lack of natural predators, wild horse populations increase at an average rate of 20 percent per year. At this rate, a given population can rapidly grow beyond the carrying capacity of its range. In a new 5-year study, USGS-FORT scientists and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management are testing the effectiveness of a new vaccine for reducing the foaling rates in wild horse mares. Specifically, investigators want to find out if SpayVac®, a contraceptive vaccine that contains a novel formulation of a glycoprotein called porcine zona pellucida (PZP), will provide a longer-term effect than other PZP vaccines currently used by the BLM. Increasing the length of time a contraceptive is effective is important in wild horses, which usually must be captured to administer treatment. If the new vaccine reduces foaling in the controlled setting of a wild horse holding facility in Oklahoma, the BLM will consider its use on free-roaming horses to help control population growth rates in the wild.
For more information contact: Butch Roelle
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