The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced that it has extended to May 28 its application deadline for research proposals aimed at controlling the population growth of wild horses and burros that roam public lands in the West. The original deadline was May 7.
The agency says it is extending the deadline "to ensure that it receives the best ideas for effective contraceptive techniques."
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 response to recommendations from a June 2013 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study, the BLM issued a request for applications to alert veterinarians, scientists, universities, pharmaceutical companies, and other researchers of the BLM’s need to develop new, innovative techniques and protocols for implementing population growth-suppression methods. Specifically, the BLM stated it were interested in finding experts to develop new or refine current techniques and protocols for either contraception or spaying/neutering on-range wild horses and burros via surgical, chemical, pharmaceutical, or mechanical (such as intrauterine devices) means.
A set of questions and answers regarding the applications is available online.
The 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 2014 level. The additional funds will be used to implement the recommendations of the NAS study (which is available for review online).
The BLM estimates that about 33,780 wild horses and 6,825 burros are roaming BLM-managed rangelands in 10 Western states, based on the latest data available. 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%.
The link to the solicitation is available online and the funding opportunity number is L14AS00048.