COLORADO SPRINGS — On Thursday, House Representatives introduced a bill that could potentially curtail wild horse roundups by helicopter while also helping veterans suffering with post-traumatic stress.

U.S. Reps. Lisa McClain, R-MI, Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., and Maria Salazar, R-Fla. introduced the Veterans for Mustangs Act (VMA), which would amend the 1971 Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act. The goal is to help better protect American wild horses and burros on federal lands and provide avenues for healing American veterans with post-traumatic stress and other disorders resulting from combat. 

“I’m proud to introduce the Veterans for Mustangs Act, which not only comes up with a humane way to provide medicine to wild horses, but also puts our nation’s veterans on the frontlines of administering these medications, said Rep. McClain.

The VMA would amend the 1971 Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act by striking the language that suggests action be taken “until all excess animals have been removed” and replacing it instead with language that values population control rather than removal.

The bill hopes to bolster the use of Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP), an immunocontraceptive that is used to control the reproductive rate in horses, which in turn would cut down on the need for overpopulation roundups. According to proponents of the bill, the new program could potentially save taxpayers billions of dollars over the next 10 years and offer a unique form of healing for veterans by enabling them to be trained to administer PZP.

According to a press release from Animal Wellness Action, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping advocate for animals on a legislative level, a dose of PZP is $30 and takes one treatment per year and becomes self-boosting after 5-7 years. In comparison, warehousing each horse costs around $1,600 per year.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has said that it supports development and research into the use of fertility control; however, reaching herds in remote areas where they are unapproachable creates unique challenges.

The VMA aims to tackle this challenge by prioritizing the recruitment of military veterans to become certified to administer fertility controls while also offering appropriate compensation to veterans participating in a certification program.

The bill will need to be assigned a committee for research and discussion, and to implement any changes, before it can be put on a calendar for a vote.