There can be no minimizing the heartbreaking and inhumane nature of helicopter roundups, of watching wild horses run together, one last time, over ground they are unlikely to see again.
Yet, Return to Freedom believes it important to recognize forward progress on the part of Bureau of Land Management in at least one regard: its more frequent use of native PZP and PZP-22, both safe and proven fertility control vaccines. At the roundups recently covered by RTF, for instance, more than 400 mares were freed after being treated. However incomplete and overdue, that is a step forward.
Since its inception, RTF has advocated for the judicious use of fertility control. We view it as part of a multi-faceted approach to humane, on-range management of wild horses and burros that together represent a humane alternative to the costly and inhumane system of helicopter roundups, separation of family bands, and addition of still more wild horses and burros to the more than 45,000 warehoused in off-range facilities.
Other advocates have also called for an immediate increase in fertility control use on the range, as did, in 2013, the National Academy of Sciences. RTF’s American Wild Horse Sanctuary was just the fourth large-scale PZP pilot project in the nation and, over the nearly 20 years since, PZP has proven itself safe and effective (with a better than 90% efficacy rate), allowing us to keep family bands together.
We are actively working with stakeholders towards a long-term, holistic and fiscally sustainable program to minimize horses being removed from their ranges.