Wild Horse Observers Association president Patience O’Dowd recently emailed BLM officials and the U.S. Secretary of the Interior offering to assist with administering a contraceptive to curb the growth of the horse population, and to remove and relocate “the horses at risk of high speed impact” on the roads. “We have knowledge of the specific horses that are causing a risk to public safety, and we have the ability to assist in every stage, including gathering the horses and finding them temporary homes, adoption homes, or training,” O’Dowd said in a May 3 letter to Tom Gow, the BLM’s Rio Puerco Field Office Manager.
Last month, a vehicle collision killed a horse on N.M. 165 in Placitas, prompting Sandoval County Commissioner Orlando Lucero to call for some kind of action to forestall further horse or, potentially, human fatalities. Some residents have estimated the free-roaming horse population numbers 100. “Everybody shares the concern about the danger with vehicles,” said BLM spokeswoman Donna Hummel.
She said agency officials are committed to community efforts to resolve the concerns but the BLM does not have jurisdiction over the horses. She said the BLM has used contraceptives on horse herds it manages but that approach would not address the immediate problem. She said BLM officials will contact the state Livestock Board, the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association and local tribes to see if they can help offer solutions.
O’Dowd declined to comment about WHOA’s plans to remove horses but said the organization has been trying for more than two years to get permission to use the immuno-contraceptive PZP (porcine zona pellucida) to limit the horse population.The organization has contacted the Livestock Board, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture and the governor’s offices in its
Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick, director of the nonprofit Science and Conservation Center in Billings, Mont., which produces PZP, said WHOA members have been certified to use the product, which received Environmental Protection Agency approval last year. The contraceptive was also recently registered for use in New Mexico, according to state Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Katie Goetz. EPA designated it a pesticide, she said, requiring purchasers and users to have a dealer’s license, which must be renewed annually. Obtaining a license involves an application and fee, Goetz said in an email. O’Dowd recently contacted state Veterinarian Dave Fly at the Livestock Board again asking what WHOA would need to do to receive PZP and use it.
Fly responded on May 2 in an email saying WHOA would need approval from the Agriculture Department but added “a written agreement with the legal owners of any animals that are to be treated must be in place,” in order to use PZP.