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PROJECT WILL GIVE CONTRACEPTIVES TO WILD HORSES IN EASTERN NEVADA

Officials will start putting Nevada's wild horses on contraceptives this fall as they test a plan to control the West's wild equestrian herds, the federal Bureau of Land Management said Friday.

The pilot project will begin in November about 50 miles north of Ely, in eastern Nevada. Horses will be rounded up, given long-lasting birth-control shots and released.The $400,000 effort will be limited to Nevada, which has 70 percent of the nation's 50,000 wild horses. But if it is successful it could spread to other states, the BLM said.

The goal is not to stop the horses from reproducing but to cut their annual growth rate from about 14 percent to 6 percent.

The program was put together by a BLM task force that included members of Nevada's Commission for the Preservation of Wild Horses, several protectionist groups and ranchers. Also involved were staffers from the office of Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who pushed for the program's funding.

The effort to control herd sizes has been sought by ranchers whose cattle must share range land with wild horses.