Friends of Animals will be filing a federal lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) this week for approving the Rocky Hills Herd Management Area Fertility Control Darting Project in Eureka County, Nevada on Aug. 24. The Interior Board of Land Appeals denied our request to suspend the BLM’s decision to forcibly drug Rocky Hills Herd mares with the fertility control pesticide PZP.

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 our appeal and petition to suspend the 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. Equally as horrifying as its motion to intervene at all is that the organization boasts about how it is working to extend the use of PZP to deer and other wild animals.

It is important to note HSUS is the registrant of PZP. However when HSUS obtained ESA registration for PZP in 2012, the organization never provided evidence that PZP doesn’t have negative side effects…it just provided information about the efficacy of PZP 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 was published by the late Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick, a veterinarian who manufactured PZP, and 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 are repulsed that HSUS would condone BLM’s failure to comply with federal law, specifically NEPA. HSUS and BLM are partners now, the BLM has even referred to HSUS as an asset, and this maneuver proves that!

Please stay tuned. 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 like in HSUS’s illustration above.