For Immediate Release
July 26, 2016
Jenni Best, associate attorney, FoA’s Wildlife Law Program 720.949.7791;
Mike Harris, Director, Wildlife Law Program; 720.949.7791;
FoA files lawsuit to cancel registration of wild horse fertility control pesticide PZP
(Washington, D.C.) Friends of Animals (FoA) has filed lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to respond to the organization’s legal petition in May of 2015 that the agency consider new scientific evidence demonstrating the need to cancel the registration of porcine zona pellucida (PZP) for population control of America’s wild horses and burros, which was issued to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) in 2012.
Information is now available to the EPA regarding the unintended—and previously undisclosed—side effects on both targeted mares and wild horses in general. It not only shows unreasonable adverse effects, but also indicates the use of PZP on wild horses likely violates the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971. FoA’s lawsuit requests that the Court order the EPA to make a final decision regarding the petition within 60 days.
“Through this action, FoA hopes to force EPA to reopen the registration process for PZP so the agency can adequately consider this new scientific research. If this research is legitimate, and we fully believe it is, use of PZP on wild horses is likely illegal under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA),” said Michael Harris, director of FoA’s Wildlife Law Program.
“When the HSUS applied to EPA to register PZP, the organization was so excited that PZP was effective at preventing pregnancy in mares that it failed to evaluate whether the forced drugging of horses could negatively impact individual animals or the herd. Indeed, the majority of research submitted by HSUS was published by the late Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick, a veterinarian who manufactured PZP, and who never studied the biological, social and behavioral effects the drug can have on wild horses.”
Since EPA originally granted the registration, independent research has been published identifying previously undisclosed effects of PZP on wild horses. Among the findings, it is now known that PZP poses the risk of immediate physical damage to the dosed mares, can increase the mortality rate in foals born to treated mares after the PZP loses its effectiveness, can result in social disruptions among herds with treated mares that can damage long-term herd cohesion that is critical to the health of the animals, and places the wild horses at risk of a genetic bottleneck.Over a decade ago, experts warned that the majority of wild equid populations managed by the BLM are kept at population sizes that are small enough for the loss of genetic variation to be a real concern.
Since 2012, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has administered approximately 2,407 doses to wild mares on public lands in the United States. BLM has repeatedly asserted in 2016 that it intends to increase its use of PZP as a means of controlling wild horses, particularly in western states like Wyoming, Utah and Nevada where wild horses are seen as pests by local ranchers desiring to utilize public lands for cattle and sheep grazing.
“Proponents of PZP have coerced the EPA into thinking that wild horses are nuisances and pests that need to be controlled and managed. If the Bureau of Land Management continues its violations against wild horses—roundups and forcibly drugging mares with PZP—we expect wild horses will go extinct on federal public lands,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals. “Anyone supporting those physical assaults is morally bankrupt and undermines the integrity and importance of wild horses. Our definition of wild means no human exploitation and manipulation of free-roaming animals. It’s time to remove the actual culprits of land degradation from herd management areas—cattle and sheep.”