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J Appl Anim Welf Sci. 2003;6(4):301-8.

Absence of effects from immunocontraception on seasonal birth patterns and foal survival among barrier island wild horses.

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Science and Conservation Center Zoo Montana, Billings, Montana 59106, USA.


Despite a large body of safety data, concern exists that porcine zonae pellucidae (PZP) immunocontraception--used to manage wild horse populations--may cause out-of-season births with resulting foal mortality. Our study at Assateague, Maryland indicated the effects of immunocontraception on season of birth and foal survival between 1990 and 2002 on wild horses from Assateague Island. Among 91 mares never treated, 69 (75.8%) of foals were born in April, May, and June (in season). Among 77 treated mares, 50 (64.9%) were born in season. Of 29 mares foaling within 1 year after treatment (contraceptive failures), 20 (68.9%) were born in season. Of 48 mares treated for greater than 2 years then withdrawn from treatment, 30 (62.5%) of 48 foals were born in season. There were no significant differences (p <.05) between either treatment group or untreated mares. Survival did not differ significantly among foals born in or out of season or among foals born to treated or untreated mares. Data indicate a lack of effect of PZP contraception on season of birth or foal survival on barrier island habitats.

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