Efficacy of dart-delivered PZP-22 immunocontraceptive vaccine in wild horses (Equus caballus) in baited traps in New Mexico, USA Article (Web of Science)


  • Abstract Context Federally protected wild horses on public lands are undergoing population growth that overwhelms the historical management strategy of removal and adoption. Porcine zona pellucida (PZP) has been used as an injectable immunocontraceptive vaccine to induce reversible infertility in free-roaming horses. PZP vaccination during February and March, which is the optimal time for administering current vaccines, is not possible for the herd on Jarita Mesa Wild Horse Territory (JM WHT), New Mexico, due to severe weather, terrain and subject wariness. AimsThe first goal was to assess bait trapping and remote darting as a minimally disruptive alternative to helicopter gathers for treatment. The second goal was to quantify the efficacy over 2 years following spring treatment with a single injection of PZP-22 (a combination of PZP-adjuvant emulsion and controlled-release pellets) by remote dart delivery. Methods Bait trapping and dart delivery of PZP-22 was carried out on JM WHT from 4 April to 16 June 2012. The herd was observed in the summers of 2011, 2013 and 2014 to determine the foaling status of the study mares. Outcome (foal or no foal) as a function of treatment was analysed using Fisher’s exact test. Key resultsThere were 157 individuals, including 66 females >1 year old, documented in 2011. In 2012, 26 females (including three yearlings) identified by colour and markings were bait trapped and darted with PZP-22. The proportion of treated females foaling was lower than that of untreated females in 2013 and 2014, but the difference was only significant in 2013. Of the treated mares observed in 2013, the two that foaled were the last two treated in 2012. Untreated mares >4 years old were significantly more likely to foal than younger mares. Conclusions Bait trapping at JM WHT permitted successful delivery of PZP-22 in a previously inaccessible herd. Dart administration of PZP-22 in April–June induced at least 1 year of measurable infertility. Implications This is the first demonstration of the efficacy of an initial treatment of PZP-22 delivered by dart instead of hand injection. Considerations for PZP-22 treatment include seasonal timing of treatments and age of treated mares. Treatments need to take place early enough to allow antibody titers to build to contraceptive levels before the breeding season.


  • Carey, Kathleen A.
  • Ortiz, Alexa
  • Grams, Kayla
  • Elkins, Dan
  • Rutberg, Allen T.

publication date

  • 2019

published in

start page

  • 713


  • 46


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