Contraceptive injections start for Dartmoor pony herd

Dartmoor ponies The Dartmoor Hill Pony Association says the animals benefit the ecology of the moor

Dartmoor ponies are being given contraceptive injections in a bid to control the number of unwanted foals.

The Dartmoor Hill Pony Association said foals were not in demand in the current economic climate and the project could prevent young unsold ponies from being slaughtered.

It added that adult numbers needed to be maintained because their grazing benefited the local ecology.

Twenty animals will be injected and also microchipped to monitor them.

'Cheaper than re-homing'

Work on the trial project, which was announced in October, started on Wednesday morning.

Vet Keith Meldrum said: "The purpose of the trial is to allow owners to keep their good adult breeding mares and bring them into foal later if they want to do so."

Maureen Rolls, from South West Equine Protection, said that although the drugs would work, it could not be a large-scale solution.

Maureen Rolls of SW Equine Protection Maureen Rolls, from South West Equine Protection, said the project was not a large-scale solution

She said: "We're dealing with feral ponies, and while they may be able to round them up and inject them, the cost of the ponies does not warrant the costs of the injections."

However, Charlotte Faulkner, founder of the Dartmoor Hill Pony Association and one of the other vets involved, said controlling the numbers of unwanted foals would help animal welfare.

She said: "It's less expensive than trying to re-home hundreds of foals."

There are no drugs in the UK that will allow fertility control of horses.

The drugs have been donated by pharmaceuticals company Pfizer, and imported from Australia.

The government issued a special licence for the contraceptive to be imported into the UK.

If the trial is successful, organisers said it could be expanded to control the populations of other native horses and ponies in areas such as the New Forest, Exmoor and Bodmin.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Devon

Weather

Plymouth

Min. Night 6 °C

Features

  • Two women in  JohanesburgYour pictures

    Readers' photos on the theme of South Africa


  • Worcestershire flagFlying the flag

    Preserving the identities of England's counties


  • Female model's bottom in leopard skin trousers as she walks up the catwalkBum deal

    Why budget buttock ops can be bad for your health


  • The OfficeIn pictures

    Fifty landmark shows from 50 years of BBC Two


  • French luxury Tea House, Mariage Freres display of tea pots Tea for tu

    France falls back in love with tea - but don't expect a British cuppa


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.