Management of feral horses an ongoing challenge in the United States

November 29, 2016

Philadelphia, PA, November 29, 2016 - Feral horses are free-ranging descendants of once-domesticated horses. All free-ranging horses in North America are feral horses, and between 2014 and 2015 the feral horse population in the United States increased 18% according to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). In 2015, the number of feral horses in the western ranges of the United States alone was estimated at 58,150. With few natural predators, populations will continue to rise, doubling every four years; thus, managing populations of feral horses represents a unique challenge in the United States.

"The ever-expanding population of feral horses is a critical but not simple problem to solve," said Lori L. Ward, lead author of a recent review of the feral horse issue in The Professional Animal Scientist. "Any solution to this problem must have an understanding of current populations of horses in each ecosystem, the carrying capacity of the ecosystem, and consideration of how these numbers will naturally vary."

In the 1950s, to combat rising populations, many feral horses were slaughtered by various means, including poisoned watering holes. This solution was met with public outrage and led to congressional action in the form of the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971, which protected feral horses as a link to our national heritage. This act protected horses on federal land and kept them from slaughter, prompting new efforts at population control.

Since that time, BLM has herded animals into holding locations where they can be managed and adopted-out. Many horses do not get adopted, however, and are labeled unwanted; likewise, the process of rounding-up feral horses is expensive and costs to maintain captive feral horses are estimated to exceed $1 billion by 2030. Such rising costs may end the adoption practice in coming years, according to the BLM.

Another means to limit populations is contraceptive use. The practice is controversial, as animal welfare activists often do not agree with the use of contraceptives, but the United States Humane Society is in support of such measures. Contraceptives, such as porcine zona pellucida vaccine, castration, or vasectomy, have not been without side effects, however. These methods may only slow growth, or in the case of vasectomy have no effect on foal rates; likewise, they may disrupt seasonal patterns within the herds among other changes.

Perceptions of feral horses in the United States are numerous and multifaceted, which creates a unique challenge when it comes to managing their populations. In order to determine the most effective management practices, knowledge of horse population dynamics as well as public political views are necessary. Any solution to such an issue can only be gained by continued research.
-end-
Notes for editors

The article is "Review: Challenges and opportunities in rising feral horse populations," by J. L. Ward, S. Lindsey, J. M. Martin, M. Nicodemus, and E. Memili (doi:10.15232/pas.2015-01415). It appears in The Professional Animal Scientist, volume 32, issue 6 (December 2016), published by Elsevier.

Copies of this paper are available to credentialed journalists upon request; please contact Eileen Leahy at +1 732 238 3628 or jdsmedia@elsevier.com. To schedule an interview with the authors, please contact Dr. Molly Nicodemus, Ph.D., Associate Professor: +1 662 325 2802, nicodemus@ads.msstate.edu; Dr. Erdogan Memili, Ph.D., Associate Professor: +1 662 325 2802; em149@ads.msstate.edu.

About The Professional Animal Scientist

The Professional Animal Scientist (PAS) is an international, peer-reviewed scientific journal and the official publication of the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS). In continuous publication since 1985, PAS is a leading outlet for animal science research. The journal welcomes novel manuscripts on applied technology, reviews on the use or application of research-based information on animal agriculture, commentaries on contemporary issues, case studies, and technical notes. Topics which will be considered for publication include (but are not limited to): feed science, farm animal management and production, dairy science, meat science, animal nutrition, reproduction, animal physiology and behavior, disease control and prevention, microbiology, agricultural economics, and environmental issues related to agriculture. Themed special issues may also be considered for publication. http://www.professionalanimalscientist.org

About the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS)

The American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS) is the organization which provides certification of animal scientists through examination, continuing education, and commitment to a code of ethics. Continual improvement of individual members is catalyzed through publications (including the PAS journal) and by providing information on educational opportunities. ARPAS is affiliated with five professional societies: American Dairy Science Association, American Meat Science Association, American Society of Animal Science, Equine Science Society, and Poultry Science Association. http://www.arpas.org

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and sometimes make groundbreaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress. Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions -- among them ScienceDirect, Scopus, Research Intelligence and ClinicalKey -- and publishes over 2,500 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and more than 35,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works. Elsevier is part of RELX Group, a world-leading provider of information and analytics for professional and business customers across industries. http://www.elsevier.com

Media contact

Eileen Leahy
Elsevier
+1 732 238 3628
jdsmedia@elsevier.com

Elsevier

Related Vasectomy Articles from Brightsurf:

Layered cocktails inspire new form of male birth control
For decades, women have shouldered most of the burden of contraception.

One in 4 women at sexual health clinics reports coercion over their reproductive lives
As many as one in four women attending sexual and reproductive healthcare services say they are not allowed to take control of their own reproductive lives, reveals a review of the available evidence, published today in BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health.

Spay and neuter for dogs: Avoiding the health consequences
In the United States, spaying or neutering a dog has become standard practice to reduce pet overpopulation.

Male contraceptive compound stops sperm without affecting hormones
A new study published today in the journal PLOS ONE details how a compound called EP055 binds to sperm proteins to significantly slow the overall mobility of the sperm without affecting hormones, making EP055 a potential 'male pill' without side effects.

Stanford study links common male medical condition and vascular disease
Men who suffer symptoms from varicoceles, enlarged veins in the scrotum, are more likely to develop vascular disease and metabolic disease, such as diabetes, according to a study by Stanford University School of Medicine researchers.

Successful reversal of Vasalgel male contraceptive in rabbits
Vasalgel is a polymer gel that is injected into the vas deferens to block the flow of sperm and create a long-lasting contraceptive effect.

Using a smartphone to screen for male infertility
Investigators at Brigham and Women's Hospital set out to develop a home-based diagnostic test that could be used to measure semen quality using a smartphone-based device.

Male contraceptive gel in monkeys shows potential as an alternative to vasectomy
A contraceptive gel has provided long-term and reliable contraception in male rhesus monkeys, according to research published in the open access journal Basic and Clinical Andrology.

Successful application of VasalgelTM male contraceptive in monkeys
Results of a study of Vasalgel in rhesus macaques were published today in Basic and Clinical Andrology.

Management of feral horses an ongoing challenge in the United States
Feral horses are free-ranging descendants of once-domesticated horses. All free-ranging horses in North America are feral horses, and between 2014 and 2015 the feral horse population in the United States increased 18 percent according to the Bureau of Land Management.

Read More: Vasectomy News and Vasectomy Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.