The Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) and the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) have signed a new agreement to implement a humane fertility control management program for the Virginia Range horses.
The program aims to reduce population growth rates in the historic herd, which lives in a 300,000-acre range that spans from Carson City to Reno to Fernley and Silver Springs.
The program's certified darters will begin working in cooperation with Blockchains, LLC – the largest landowner in the Virginia Range -- to deliver the PZP immunocontraceptive vaccine to wild horses in Innovation Park in Storey County this week.
“AWHC extends our gratitude to Governor Steve Sisolak, Minority Leader Jim Wheeler, Blockchains and NDA Director Jennifer Ott for honoring the public’s interest in protecting these horses and getting this win-win program implemented,” said Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of the AWHC. “We are pleased to be back in the field, implementing humane solutions for population management of the cherished Virginia Range mustangs.”
"We love looking out our office windows and seeing the majestic wild horses grazing on our property,” said Blockchains CEO Jeffrey Berns. “We have always said the horses on our land, will remain on our land. But the safety of our employees and all those who visit Storey County is of concern. That’s why responsible birth control measures are essential.”
“We are thrilled that Governor Sisolak, Minority Leader Jim Wheeler, Nevada Department of Agriculture Director Jennifer Ott and the American Wild Horse Campaign worked so quickly to come to a cooperative agreement to begin darting immediately.”
Blockchains’ land in Innovation Park comprises nearly one-third of the area currently inhabited by the Virginia Range wild horse population.
PZP is a scientifically established immunocontraceptive vaccine for female horses (mares). It creates an immune response that prevents fertilization. It is reversible, safe (including for pregnant mares) and has minimal impacts on the horses’ natural behaviors.
Controlling the population humanely and reducing it over time is essential to keeping the Virginia Range horses wild in a habitat that is increasingly impacted by development. The program provides a humane alternative to removals from the range.
AWHC’s darting team currently consists of seven volunteers who also represent AWHC local coalition partners Virginia Range Wildlife Protection Association, Wild Horse Connection, and Wild Horse Preservation League. On April 23-25, 2019 AWHC is sponsoring a PZP certification training class, offered by the Science and Conservation Center, and hosted by Blockchains.
The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is the nation’s leading wild horse advocacy organization, dedicated to defending America’s wild horses and burros to protect their freedom, preserve their habitat, and promote humane standards of treatment. AWHC’s mission is endorsed by a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations.
Press release provided by American Wild Horse Campaign