UPDATE: Congress Funds Fertility Control for Wild Horses, But More Needs to Be Done
Previously, we alerted you to contact your federal legislators to support a clause in the Federal Appropriations Act for the 2022 budget. The section was for funding a dedicated amount of $11 million specifically for humane, reversible fertility control for wild horse herds to alleviate the “need” for deadly roundups. Congress recently passed the bill, but much oversight is still needed.
The enacted bill, now called the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2022 (H.R. 2471), did include requiring the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to use $11 million of its funds for reversible immunocontraceptive fertility control. This has never been accomplished before, and currently, the BLM spends less than one percent of its budget on humane, reversible fertility control implementation.
However, it is only a partial victory when the final wording is considered.
The preferred “management” practice that the BLM has used for decades is brutally cruel helicopter roundups of wild herds, causing injuries and deaths and separating bonded families forever. Horses and burros end up in dire holding facilities where they lose all hope. Only a small percentage are adopted or sold outright, and many of those end up in the slaughter pipeline. Advocates who understand the complexities of the situation would rather see the utilization of safe, humane, reversible PZP fertility control than the bloody roundups and their aftermath.
Unfortunately, the 2022 Appropriations Act also included an increase of $21 million for roundup and removal of wild horses and burros this fiscal year. While this is less than the $35 million that the BLM requested, it still ensures that the roundups will continue at an accelerated pace. On schedule to be removed this year are 22,000 additional animals!
The bill’s language for fertility control is also worrisome. The bill states the $11 million is to be used for “administration of and research on reversible immunocontraceptive fertility control.” This wording leaves open the door for misuse of funding and wasteful spending. We do not want to fund research on the problematic-for-wild-horses vaccine, GonaCon. The funds should all go for PZP darting in the field since this is an established tried-and-true contraception method.