The BLM, which is extending the deadline to ensure that it receives the best ideas for effective contraceptive techniques, is reaching out to veterinarians, scientists, universities, pharmaceutical companies, and other researchers outside of the agency. Joan Guilfoyle, Division Chief of the Wild Horse and Burro Program, said, “We are looking for breakthrough methods of controlling population growth rates, which will lessen the need to remove animals from the range while saving taxpayers money.”
In its Request for Applications, which responds to recommendations of a June 2013 National Academy of Sciences study, the BLM declared its interest in the development of new or refinement of current techniques and protocols for either contraception or the spaying/neutering of on-range male and female wild horses and burros. The methods may be surgical, chemical, or pharmaceutical, and may also include intrauterine devices. A set of questions and answers regarding the applications can be found at http://on.doi.gov/1hAaWuB .
The President’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2015 includes $80.2 million for the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program, a $2.8 million increase over the FY 2014 level. The additional funds will be used to implement the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences study (which can be accessed at: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13511).
The BLM estimates that 40,605 wild horses and burros (about 33,780 horses and 6,825 burros) are roaming BLM-managed rangelands in 10 Western states, based on the latest data available, compiled as of February 28, 2013. Wild horses and burros have virtually no natural predators and their herd sizes can double about every four years, as confirmed by the June 2013 NAS study that urged the BLM to make wider use of fertility control and found that, on average, the BLM undercounts the Westwide population of wild horses and burros by 20 to 30 percent.
The link to the solicitation can be found at: http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/search-grants.html?keywords=wild horse . (The funding opportunity number is L14AS00048.)