U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


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Baker, D.L., J.G. Powers, J.I. Ransom, B.E. McCann, M.W. Oehler, J.E. Bruemmer, N.L. Galloway, D.C. Eckery, and T.M. Nett. 2018. Reimmunization increases contraceptive effectiveness of gonadotropin-releasing hormone vaccine (GonaCon-Equine) in freeranging horses (Equus caballus): Limitations and side effects.PLoS ONE 13(7):e0201570. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0201570


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Wildlife and humans are increasingly competing for resources worldwide, and a diverse, innovative, and effective set of management tools is needed. Controlling abundance of wildlife species that are simultaneously protected, abundant, competitive for resources, and in conflict with some stakeholders but beloved by others, is a daunting challenge. Free-ranging horses (Equus caballus) present such a conundrum and managers struggle for effective tools for regulating their abundance. Controlling reproduction of female horses presents a potential alternative. During 2009±2017, we determined the long-term effectiveness of GnRH vaccine (GonaCon-Equine) both as a single immunization and subsequent reimmunization on reproduction and side effects in free-ranging horses. At a scheduled management roundup in 2009, we randomly assigned 57 adult mares to either a GonaCon-Equine treatment group (n = 29) or a saline control group (n = 28). In a second roundup in 2013, we administered a booster vaccination to these same mares. We used annual ground observations to estimate foaling proportions, social behaviors, body condition, and injection site reactions. We found this vaccine to be safe for pregnant females and neonates, with no overt deleterious behavioral side effects during the breeding season. The proportion of treated mares that foaled following a single vaccination was lower than that for control mares for the second (P = 0.03) and third (P = 0.08) post-treatment foaling seasons but was similar (P = 0.67) to untreated mares for the fourth season, demonstrating reversibility of the primary vaccine treatment. After two vaccinations, however, the proportion of females giving birth was lower (P

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