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Contraceptives are a Bad Idea for Mustangs
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Contraceptives are a Bad Idea for Mustangs

Mustangs have been around for ages and are said to have introduced by Native Americans, ranchers, miners and others. It is the mandate of the federal government to rein in thousands of these wild horses that currently roam the western states freely. With the resources in their natural habitat depleting at an alarming rate, a lasting solution to the rising number is being sought.

Contraceptives are one such way that was adopted in the hopes of keeping their growing population in check. This idea has been fiercely challenged by many animal rights activists who are declaring that contraceptives are a bad idea for mustangs. This tiff, which has been going on for years, has been a big blow to the government’s federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The other method through which the government seeks to reduce the number is by selling them to the public who will be responsible for them. However, this is hampered by the strict law that limits their adoption. Killing them is another option which has also been met with fierce opposition as it is considered inhumane.

This has left the government at a loss to the point of asking for help from the public as they have run out of ideas on how to handle the issue delicately. Therefore, anyone with a better solution on how to curb the rising number of these horses is welcome to contact them. If not, drastic measures will be adopted in the desperate attempt to reduce the overcrowding that threatens to have detrimental effects on the rangeland.

The Argument

Although controlling the growing herd through contraceptive has failed, some groups still oppose the move. This has led to a straining of resources that are shared between cattle, mustangs and wildlife to the point of encountering a scarcity of fodder and water.

The argument from animal rights group alludes to the fact that mustangs are mistreated during this process of rendering them infertile. This is evidenced by the many images that show helicopters flying low rounding up the herds of wild horses. Reports also claim that many injuries and deaths are caused due to the ensuing stampede and the subsequent rough handling of the animals.

States like Nevada have come out strongly in the defense of these horses, through various groups and associations, to the point of suing BLM. They believe the government should be preserving them and not the other way round.

BLM however, argues that they are already giving shelter and feeding close to 40,000 mustangs at a cost of $1.30 each. Since this number is predicted to get out of control soon, they are calling for an intervention as they predict it will be too costly to manage. Their stance is firmly grounded in the belief that contraceptives, specifically PZP is the way to go.

Anne Novak, the executive director in charge of the Protect Mustangs which is an advocacy group, came out strongly about the issue. She argues that the main problem is the holding pens where the contraceptive is administered.

Although a solution is yet to be found, contraceptives still sound like a bad idea to most animal rights groups.

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  1. horsetails
    horsetails
    Great article. I understand that the roundups can be traumatic, but they are a necessity if we are to preserve the breed. The fact of the matter is, there is not enough land to support their numbers along with other wildlife and cattle. Ranchers should not have their grazing land revoked to compensate for the lack of forage for these mustangs, because honestly, what contribution are the wild horses really making to society besides being huge money pits for tax payers? Ranchers are important and vital to every American and they shouldn't be rated below the mustangs. Contraceptives seem like the only reasonable solution. Contraceptives are used on Assateague Island to manage the herds of wild ponies in Maryland and Virginia. Their program has proven to be extremely successful, and the BLM and other animal rights activists should take note.
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    1. jst4horses
      The roundups do not need to be traumatic. The helicopters and off road vehicle are illegal. I worked VERY hard with International Horse Rescues way back, the early seventies I think, to make sure the United Nations and individual countries signed agreements to NEVER allow any animals to be harassed by helicopter or vehicles. This last Dunn Ranch round up, on Native Nation land was a horror story, they for some stupid reason held the round up in foaling season. Some of the mares can be seen in video with foals popping out as the horses are being terrorized by a low flying helicopter. Foals, and others are seen falling and with broken legs trying to hop along with the herd. Foals are trampled in the terror. There is NO excuse for this. I have seen at one of the sanctuaries a series of chutes, and the horses are pressured, by HUMANS, on the ground, without even horses or dogs, into the chutes, go on down, and are loaded into trucks to escape forest fires. They do the same for shot giving and for the vet to take a look at them from time to time. There simply is NO EXCUSE for abusing any animal in these ways. I was surprised on my first cattle round up, the cattle simply see the horses with riders, and begin to follow them back up the ridges and canyons until they see the arenas where grain is in the feeders, the cattle go in, and on the way out are herded through chutes for their shots and the vet to take a look at them. That is it, NO Hollywood drama. The calves had ear tags inserted based on the numbers on their mother's tags and that is that. They are let go, with a big round of alfalfa on the ground outside the arena, and off go the humans to leave them in peace to wander back to their ranges.
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  2. jst4horses
    Annie Novak is an amazing person. The use of helicopters, and many other aspects of mustang issues are inhumane and dangerous for the animals. Native American groups have stepped forward and demanded that ranges be returned to the wild. there are GREAT plans that protect the mustangs, restore a natural balance to the public lands, and protect the wolves, bears, bobcats, and mountain lions, as well as will work to restore many other animals, fish, and birds and recreate the migratory bird areas. There are resorts that are interested in putting in small lodge connected resorts that will work with the casinos and bigger resorts to provide an on going tourist and global online museum and on site museums of the west. ALL of these ideas will bring in money to protect and keep the horses wild, and the suggestions have been made to create horse sanctuaries for working horses as well. They have a different type of life to be facilitated once turned out, but are also a great concern and love of Americans. The memory of our own Calvary horses (Don Johnson starred in the film regarding the young calvary officer who refused to simply take them to Mexico and slaughter them into a pit as he had been ordered to do when tanks became the rage and the calvary was not going to use horses anymore) shows how America has treated our working horses. MOST of not ALL of the wild mustangs go back to abandonment of one sort or another by their humans of animals that served everyone who has lived in America. The use of birth control for mustangs has been proven. You can go on to the sanctuary in Lompoc, and see for yourself that the geldings run free, the stallions do NOT bother them. The mares are in great health because they are given their medication to keep them from getting pregnant every single year. That particular sanctuary does NOT use predators in natural balance, it is small and a ranch. The surrounding ranchers of cattle, sheep and other meat animals would have a fit if predators were reintroduced. of course they would not limit their diet to the sanctuary horses. And the herd is not big enough to sustain big predators and keep the herds strong. This area of dispute is one I believe the mustang rescue people need to get into a room and resolve, then to go BLM and Fish and Game and the ranchers and hunters and resolve the issues, THEN take an approved over all plan to the government for approval. It will circumvent decades of nothing but the wrong things being done because the mustang/ranchers/hunters/blm/f&g persons are so interested in their own way that the animals will just be all gone by the time nothing gets done. I have offered teams of free mediators............it is time to save these horses, and to restore our public lands.
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  3. Running free
    Cattle are out numbering the horses 100 to 1 on public lands. And you say the land is suffering. The land is suffering because of the cattle. Odviously. No to pzp. I feel they bringing the numbers of horses dangerously low. That is not how you preserve the breed.
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    1. jst4horses
      You are very right, the cattle, not the horses are causing the ruin of the land and wilderness. The ranchers are so greedy, they can not think of losing on big buck on a cow that is captured by a mountain lion or wolf, so the big predators are all being murdered. BY truck, helicopter and snipers.............And the horses are just being rounded up and sold off. THAT to me is not how to preserve WILD horses. I visit and have trained many mustangs for people who bought them and then could not handle them..........I train the people how to handle mustangs. They, like wolves or any other wild born animal are much more sensitive to human feelings, and often the emotions or stress of the human causes the mustang to become upset and the person thinks it is bad behavior........the horse has no idea that HE is the reason the predator is upset, and thinks, if this predator is upset, what chance to I have. I call horses "giant hamsters" because they really have no concept of their own size compared to humans, they just know that we are predators, and if their predator is upset, or afraid, it is time to get scared or upset. Life might be at risk. TO me, WILD horses are WILD, and we need to preserve them by leaving them WILD as we can, and if that means gelding the colts, and administrating contraception, because the ranchers have eliminated the natural predators, then that is reality and nature, NOT the horror people are bringing on the land and the animals. I do not understand the beef craze anyway.............people know fish is better, and there are MANY new environmentally sound resources restoring the numbers of fish and the oceans and lakes, which makes a lot more sense than destroying the wilderness and wild animals.
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