Consensus Report

Review of Proposals to the Bureau of Land Management on Wild Horse and Burro Sterilization or Contraception: A Letter Report (2015)

Each report is produced by a committee of experts selected by the Academy to address a particular statement of task and is subject to a rigorous, independent peer review; while the reports represent views of the committee, they also are endorsed by the Academy. Learn more on our expert consensus reports.

Evidence suggests that wild horse and burro populations are growing by 15 to 20 percent each year, a level that is unsustainable for maintaining healthy horse populations and healthy ecosystems. The most effective fertility control drugs available can reduce population growth rate only if delivered every one to three years to the majority of equids on the range. Both procuring or manufacturing the contraceptives and rounding up the animals for treatment are expensive processes.

To find more cost-effective alternatives, the Bureau of Land Management-- the agency charged with the protection, management, and control of wild free-roaming horses and burros on public lands-- issued a Request for Applications (RFA) for research proposals "aimed at developing new or refining existing techniques and establishing protocols for the contraception or permanent sterilization of either male or female wild horses and/or burros in the field." This letter report describes the review process, in which the committee considered a range of factors including the relevance of the proposal to the fundamental objectives of the award program; the scientific quality of the proposed work; and the capacity of the personnel and facilities and the appropriateness of budget.