PZP UPDATE, January, 2015

Gracianna and her 2014 foal, Odakota.  July, 2014.
Gracianna and her 2014 foal, Odakota. July, 2014.

Below is information pertaining to a revised PZP program.  You can go to the BLM/Billings website to view it there as well.  Click on BLM to go there.

I am going to throughly read and think through this proposal before I send in my comment.  I encourage everyone to do the same.

We can use this post as a discussion forum if you have any questions, I will do my best to find the answers for you.

Thank you,


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Odakota, July 2014
Odakota, July 2014

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The above document is available for you to view and download at the BLM website.

Logo designed by Amber Bushnell.  Wild in the Pryors and this logo is copyrighted.
Logo designed by Amber Bushnell. Wild in the Pryors and this logo is copyrighted.

9 thoughts on “PZP UPDATE, January, 2015

  • Thank you for the links!! I look forward to reading them properly. I just made a super quick blog post with my initial thoughts after reading the article the Mustang Centre posted. I’m interested to see the thoughts of everyone who knows the herd so well!

  • I haven’t read it all, but my first impression is that I think they should be more careful when they target the fillies and young mares, to avoid foals being born too out of season. Once they decide a mare has finished breeding, fair enough to target her whenever, but if the youngsters’ hormones are messed up, they might not adjust properly when they do first breed. Not an expert at all though.

    I don’t really like the idea of PZP or gathers, I’d rather see a bigger range and more horses! But that’s not up to me, or the question at hand 🙂

  • Just a quick comment about the thresholds (I haven’t yet had a chance to properly read the EA but you were correct in saying the article written missed out vital information by missing out of the thresholds-they have really changed my perspective on the proposal). At any rate, Threshold 2 really bothers me (Well, 3 bothers me too but I haven’t really had a chance to wrap my head around that one). If I’m understanding it correctly, then, through removals, the BLM can leave only one offspring per any mare as the sole representation of her genetics. Threshold 1 makes some sense in a population control mindset (assuming population control is unavoidable), particularly as I doubt that any mares would be allowed more than 3 offspring to remain wild when you factor in removals. But I really don’t see how 2 could be considered a reasonable decree. As I’ve seen pointed out by the others, it’s not even survival of the fittest. A horse is removed through no fault of it’s own. And there’s absolutely no guarantee that that one offspring that’s potentially left will ever reproduce or even survive….particularly if the PZP plan is intensified! I need to group my thoughts a little better in order to comment more thoroughly on this threshold and the rest of the proposal, but I wanted to throw this comment out there to be sure that I was understanding the situation correctly.

  • I have read this EA in total. Looks like they are trying to hone in on zero population growth while keeping the population at the higher end of the AML. This would basically negate the need for any round ups. It also looks like they have left the ability for prescribed changes in case the population dips toward the low end or goes too high so that they could again adjust without round ups. Given that each mare in the 5 to 9 yr age group can have 2 babies and that she does not get treated until her youngest is ,1 it appears that the BLM is making sure the baby has a good chance of survival and possibly two babies.

    So far, it is looking great to me. This is a thoughtful plan with specific thresholds relevant to this herd.

  • It seems like the plan is trying to minimise removals, or do away with them altogether, and manage the population purely with contraception. It’s thoughtful and seems to aim at maintaining stable numbers and genetic diversity to an extent, but I do have some issues. Honestly, I am not certain I like the idea of upping the PZP contraception plan, and I definitely don’t like the idea of beginning treatment with yearling fillies in the autumn.

    Another thing that bothers me is the fact that the thresholds don’t seem to take sex into account – I feel that mares should be represented by at least one successfully reproducing daughter, to ensure that their particular female family continues, and stallions by one son. The other problem is that if a mare can be contracepted once she has two offspring a year or older, that is still no guarantee they will breed on, particularly as mares do not get the chance to reproduce until they are five, and extended treatment with PZP can have unintended consequences for individuals. It may be mostly reversible, but it’s not always reversible – though on the other hand sometimes it’s just not effective!

    The last two points in the proposal I think make sense in terms of maintaining the population at sustainable levels. I suppose ideally we’d like to see the horses free of contraception and gathers, but that isn’t going to happen, and in fairness this is a workable proposal for the most part. On the other hand, I think that the current contraceptive program is working pretty well, so I’m not certain I see the need to step it up. This isn’t Shackleford Banks, where there are no natural predators and the climate is forgiving. There’s plenty of youngsters who don’t make it to breeding age because of weather, accidents, illness, etc, even if they make it to their first birthday. I’d be wary of limiting each mare’s chances of reproductive success to only two youngsters.

      • Thank you. I think the comments have all been very interesting and well-thought out. I’m really grateful you posted this proposal – being able to read the actual document certainly helps when it comes to understanding the decisions made and the reasons behind them – and am sorry it’s taken me so long to get round to reading it. I guess there are going to be a lot of questions I want to ask in person this summer – I’m looking forward to the trip!

  • Here is The Wild Horse Observers Association’s preliminary comment. There will be a few additional comments before sending.

    James M. Sparks
    Field Manager
    U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management
    Billings Field Office, Billings, Montana 59101
    Phone: 406-896-5013

    Re: 4700 Mt (010.JB) 1/29/2015
    Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Fertility Control
    Preliminary Environmental Assessment
    DOI-BLM-MT-0010-2015-00006 –EA

    Dear Mr. Sparks,


    It was with great appreciation that I read the above document. As your record shows, WHOA has been in support of the use of the 1 yr native PZP for use on the Pryor Mt herd as well as most other herds given the continuing wipe out of the horses natural predators and the resultant round-ups. Unlike virtually all other large prey species in the U.S., the predator of the horse has not been replaced.

    Here is what we at WHOA specifically appreciate. Given the carefully thought out thresholds, it appears the BLM understands that each herd will need it’s own “prescription” (thresholds) in order to reach zero population growth while ensuring genetic viability, especially on a herd with a relatively low AML. The thresholds listed appear to be well thought out in order to bring the population to zero population growth (ZPG) to end round ups, maintain genetics, AND maintaining the population of the herd at the high end of the AML range.

    Again, maintaining the herd at the higher end of the AML is also beneficial for maintaining the genetic viability of the herd in and of itself, as is ending the removal of horses through round ups, and thereby removing from their gene pool permanently.

    Perhaps the AML could or should be re-looked at and adjusted up, however, in any case, WHOA supports the use of native PZP to keep herds at ZPG given the constant slaughter of their natural predators funded by the U.S. government at a higher level than the entire wild horse and burro program along with substantial hunting. However, no matter the wild horse AML, at some point, contraception by native PZP is still advised in order to end round ups, preserve genetics, end/reduce compensatory reproduction, save tax payer dollars, keep horses in their homeland with their families, protect our American Culture, be prepared for unexpected droughts, be prepared for climate change, be better prepared for disease, decrease the abuses of helicopter round ups, decrease the abuses of castration, decrease the lack of transparency in privately owned federal holding pens, decrease the risk of wild horses going to slaughter from these holding pens, adoptions, or sale, as well as death and listlessness in these holding pens, to name a few.

    I would also caution that the document referred to above makes speculator statements about what “may” occur. These statements should not be included unless listed clearly as speculation and without data. For example, unicorns may also fly! But I have never seen the data to support this, and I have never seen a unicorn!

    It would be important to also mention/reference the National Academy of Science Recommendations and how this plan for the Pryor Mt Wild Horses is, or is not, in line with the NAS recommendations. I understand that tax payers did pay for this NAS report and that the NAS did recommend the use of native PZP.

    Thanks Much!!
    Patience O’Dowd president
    Wild Horse Observers Association
    a public 501 c3 non-profit corp.
    PO Box 932
    Placitas, NM 87043

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