Birth Control Darts Fired At Idaho Wild Horses To Slow Herd Growth

October 31, 2014 By TOM BANSE, Cross Posted from Northwest Public Radio Image

Federal wild horse specialists from Idaho and Oregon have been trained in how to shoot birth control darts into the rumps of wild horses. The technique could soon see wider use to slow the growth of wild mustang herds. The federal government estimates more than 40,000 wild horses roam the Western range.

Field staff from the Bureau of Land Management in Challis, Idaho, and Ochoco National Forest in central Oregon traveled to the non-profit Science and Conservation Center in Montana to learn about a wildlife contraceptive called PZP. Center director Jay Kirkpatrick said the birth control can be injected in wild horses via a small dart fired from an air gun.

"If you can get within 50 yards of the horse, you can dart it. You don't have to capture it. It's easy on the horse. You don't chase them around with helicopters or wranglers or vehicles," Kirkpatrick said.

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