What is fertility control ?
Fertility control refers to methods used to affect the reproduction (and in turn, the population) of animals. Immunocontraceptives are one type of fertility control that has been used successfully to reduce wild animal populations, including horses - they are vaccines that, when administered, inhibit the ability of the female to further reproduce.
Is there evidence that immunocontraceptives work?
Yes. Immunocontraceptives have been used in the United States with wild horse populations for over 30 years. They have also been used on other wild animal populations, like deer.
While immunocontraceptives are effective, the challenge has been in the delivery of the vaccines, particularly where more than one dose is required. However, immunocontraceptives have continued to improve and develop on this front. For example, the United States Government is currently trialling a new ‘oocyte growth factor’ vaccination which has the potential to induce long-term infertility in horses with a single dart.
What needs to happen in NSW?
Australia is well-positioned to take advantage of developments in immunocontraceptives overseas. But despite significant progress in other countries , there has never been a trial of immunocontraceptives on wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park, and there is no plan for a trial set out in the 2021 Draft Wild Horse Management Plan. This needs to change.