For Immediate Release
May 4, 2017
Jenni Best, associate attorney, FoA’s Wildlife Law Program 720.949.7791; firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Harris, Director, Wildlife Law Program; 720.949.7791; email@example.com
With a victory for Rocky Hill wild horse herd, FoA stops BLM, HSUS from turning Nevada’s public lands into zoo-like settings
Following a lawsuit filed by international animal advocacy group Friends of Animals, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has cancelled its five-year remote darting program that would have forcibly drugged Nevada’s Rocky Hill wild horses with fertility control.
“This is a significant victory for Nevada’s wild horses because it was a five-year fertility control plan,” said Michael Harris, director of Friends of Animals’ Wildlife Law Program. “What is ignored by the pro-fertility control community is that wild horses darted with PZP to inhibit their ability to naturally reproduce aren’t really, well, wild anymore.
"The solution to any perceived wild horse crisis in Nevada is not to simply prescribe a drug. If wild horses, along with other wild animals in the West, are to be saved, we must change the unsustainable method of land use planning that we have created for our public lands. Wild horses and other wildlife deserve their own lands to call home."
Since the BLM caters to the cattle and sheep ranching industry, it has created an artificially low appropriate management level for the Rocky Hills Herd Management Area (HMA). A measly 86-143 wild horses are deemed appropriate for the HMA , which consists of 83,988 acres.
If that’s not staggering enough, the bombshell in this case is that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which claims to advocate for the protection of wild horses and burros, intervened in Friends of Animals’ original appeal and petition to suspend BLM’s Aug. 2016 decision on behalf of the BLM, showing its true colors—that one of the nation’s wealthiest animal charities buys into the myth perpetuated by cattle and sheep ranchers that there are too many wild horses on federal public lands.
HSUS is the registrant of the fertility control drugs PZP and ZonaStat-H. However when HSUS obtained EPA registration, the organization never provided evidence that the birth control doesn’t have negative side effects…it just provided information about its efficacy and actually requested waivers for most of the studies ordinarily required from an applicant seeking pesticide registration—including a toxicity study, ecological effects and environmental fate guideline study.
The majority of research submitted by HSUS did not consider the biological, social and behavioral effects the drug can have on wild horses. More recent research has demonstrated repeated applications of PZP can cause physical damage to treated mares; it is not completely reversible; it can increase mortality in foals post-PZP effectiveness; and it interferes with herd cohesion, which is critical to the overall health of wild horses. In addition, preventing mares from producing foals can create a genetic bottleneck that may ultimately extinguish the species as a whole.
No public comment or notice was given before the BLM’s decision about the Rocky Hills HMA was made. Furthermore, the BLM did not prepare a project-specific Environmental Assessment (EA) to inform this decision; instead, BLM completed a Determination of NEPA Adequacy (DNA), in which it concluded that the Fertility Control Darting Project "is essentially similar to an alternative analyzed in the prior National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) documents," and the effects of the Project "are similar to those disclosed" in the 2010 Callaghan Complex EA, so no further NEPA analysis was necessary.”
“We were repulsed from the beginning that HSUS would condone BLM’s failure to comply with federal law, specifically NEPA,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals. “But bolstered by this victory, FoA marches on in its fight to keep the wild in wilderness and to make sure our federal public lands do not become zoo-like settings.”