Contraception is becoming a common approach for the management of captive and wild ungulates yet there are few data for contraceptive effects on entire populations. Management-level treatment of mares with porcine zona pellucida (PZP) vaccine resulted in zero population growth of the Assateague Island wild horse population within 1 year of initiation of treatment. Contraceptive efficacy was 90% for mares treated twice in the first year and annually thereafter. For mares given a single initial inoculation, contraceptive efficacy was 78%. The effort required to achieve zero population growth decreased, as 95, 83 and 84% of all adult mares were treated in each of the first 3 years, compared with 59 and 52% during the last 2 years. Mortality rates for mares and foals after the initiation of management-level treatments decreased below historic and pretreatment mortality rates of approximately 5%. Two new age classes have appeared among treated animals (21-25 years and > 25 years), indicating an increase in longevity among treated animals. Body condition scores for all horses, all adult mares and non-lactating mares increased significantly between summer 1989 and autumn 1999 but did not change significantly in lactating mares. These results provide reliable data for the construction of realistic models for contraceptive management of free-roaming or captive ungulate populations.
Reproduction (Cambridge, England) Supplement 02/2002; 60:187-95.