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Half-time for the FOUR PAWS birth control program: Fifty free range mares in the Danube Delta have already received the immune-contraception


© FOUR PAWS | Cristian Nistor

About 1,000 free living horses in the Danube Delta are disturbing the natural balance of the flora and fauna. Since autumn 2013, FOUR PAWS has been trying to stem the reproduction of the horses with humane methods, in order to protect the area as well as the horse population. By this time, fifty mares could have already been vaccinated with the immune-contraceptive.

Not an easy task

© FOUR PAWS | Cristian Nistor

In the course of four actions between October 2013 and January 2014, the FOUR PAWS team on site located, sedated, examined and, if necessary, treated the mares medically and vaccinated them. Dr. Veterinarian Ovidiu Rosu from FOUR PAWS says: “We wanted to induce the horses as little stress as possible – not an easy task to identify the mares from afar and not to scare the wary animals away with our presence.”


But the efforts paid off; not only could fifty mares be vaccinated for the first time, some could already receive the booster injection. To make the effect of the immune-contraception last, the animals need to be vaccinated again every year before the heat period. However, the booster can be done remotely with the help of a dart gun, so the mares don’t have to be caught and sedated a second time.

© FOUR PAWS | Kuki Barbuceanu

Food for the horses

© FOUR PAWS | Cristian Nistor

Moreover, the FOUR PAWS Team distributed food to the horses in January, approximately 400 hay bales, to help the horses in withstanding the cold season.

A look into the future

Based on the positive balance, the birth control program will continue. After the vaccination of the first 100 mares, the goal is to increase the number in the next season and continue with the booster injections. Robert Hengl, Head of the Competence Centre Horses at FOUR PAWS, concludes: “We are very happy about the intermediate result – the successful vaccination of fifty mares – and consider our actions in the Danube Delta as a great challenge in helping these wonderful animals.”