BLM Tests Fertility Drug to Control Wild Herd Growth

Oocyte growth factor (OGF) lasts three years or longer and is a potential alternative to PZP.
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BLM Tests Fertility Drug to Control Wild Herd Growth
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has begun testing a new fertility-control vaccine that it hopes will become an alternative to contraceptive porcine zona pellucida (PZP) for controlling wild herd growth. | Photo: iStock

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has begun testing a new fertility-control vaccine it hopes will become an alternative to contraceptive porcine zona pellucida (PZP) for controlling wild herd growth. While some wild horse advocates believe the vaccine could reduce the need for controversial wild horse gathers, others maintain that the agency is not allowing enough public scrutiny of the testing.

In use by the BLM since the 1990s, PZP is injected into wild mares to produce antibodies that prevent sperm from attaching to an egg and fertilizing it. Mares on the range receive PZP via dart gun, while gathered mares are administered by syringe. The contraceptive is effective for about a year.

Earlier this month, the BLM began testing oocyte growth factor (OGF) on 16 previously gathered wild mares in Nevada as part of a joint research project with the USDA/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) National Wildlife Research Center

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Written by:

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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