Horse Study

A horse exits a holding area after officials at the horse and burro adoption facility in Pauls Valley drew blood from the animal moments earlier as part of a five-year contraceptive study now underway at the local center.

A horse adoption facility just outside of Pauls Valley is the site for a five-year contraceptive study intended to find a more effective way to control herd numbers.

Teaming up for the study are the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

The study recently started at the BLM's short-term holding facility in PV is actually meant to benefit managed rangelands in 10 states in the western U.S.

“The study is to develop a fertility vaccine longer than the vaccine currently in use,” BLM official Paul McGuire said, while adding the current vaccine lasts for about two years.

“It is vitally important to keep horse numbers to a manageable level. One tool we have is to keep those numbers in place,” he said.

The fertility control study here is part of a strategic shift in the way BLM hopes to manage wild horses and burros on the public range. It includes stepping up its efforts to reduce population growth rates in wild horse herds using contraceptive agents.

The goal is to see if SpayVac®, a novel formulation of a glycoprotein called porcine zona pellucida (PZP), will provide a longer-term effect than other PZP vaccines currently used by the BLM.

If the vaccine is found to reduce foaling in this controlled setting, it will be considered for use with free-roaming horses to help control population growth rates on the range. 

According to McGuire, the millions of acres of land out west managed by the BLM are used for a variety of things including recreation, mineral development, energy production and wild horse preservation at long-term pasture facilities.

Hopes are the study in Pauls Valley will result in more effective fertility control to better manage the numbers of horses at each of these facilities.

Currently the excess number of animals from these herd management areas are adopted out through centers like the one located in Pauls Valley.

The problem is the numbers are right now too much for the adoption sites.

“Right now we’re removing more horses than adoption centers can handle,” McGuire said.

Even with the study ongoing the PV facility will continue with its regular practice of holding horse and burro adoptions from 8 a.m. to noon Tuesday, May 10.

The facility in PV conducts the adoptions every second Tuesday of the month.

A mixed group of animals is offered each month. An application approval is required and can be done on site. The minimum fee to adopt is $125. Call 866-4-MUSTANGS or visit www.blm.gov.nm for more information.

The PV facility is located off of Interstate 35, Exit 74, which is Kimberlin Road. Go about one-quarter mile west and follow signs to the entrance.

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