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Wild horses of Letea

Managing the Wild Horses Population in Romania

Our birth control programme is helping horses in the Danube Delta

17.9.2021

Since 2012, we have been working to protect some of the last free roaming wild horses in the Danube delta, Europe.

How it all began

Historical documents state that 700 years ago, the Tatars, who came to conquer Europe with their horses, fought in the area around the Danube delta. Following their fall, many battle horses were left behind, thus finding perfect conditions for multiplying in numbers. Furthermore, centuries later after the fall of communism in Romania (1989), many working horses who worked in the agricultural cooperatives suddenly had no owners and were left to fend for themselves in the luscious Danube delta. Two decades later (1990 – 2010), the horses’ population was able to spread fast and freely.

Due to this uncontrolled growing population, especially in the strictly protected Letea forest of the Danube delta, the authorities were certain that the horses were endangering and ruining the flora. Thus, the Romanian authorities saw no other solution than to allow the horses to be shot or to be caught and to be brought to a slaughterhouse.

What had happened

Finally, in May 2011, we became aware of a brutal roundup of more than 70 horses – the horses were destined for the slaughterhouse. FOUR PAWS managed to stop the slaughterhouse transport and rescued more than 40 horses, taking them to a farm in Urleasca. After taking care of them for more than six months, the horses were brought back to roam free in the Danube delta.

The solution

After the return/relocation of the horses back to the Delta we reacted immediately by making an offer to the Romanian government: we would establish a birth control programme that could control the population long-term.

Since then, a team of Romanian vets has been implementing this animal-friendly solution successfully – and for more than 10 years no wild horse has been brought anywhere near a slaughterhouse.

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Veterinary treatment and feeding

In cooperation with the Romanian authorities, we have agreed the following activities along with our birth control programme:

  • FOUR PAWS vets will treat ill, injured and old horses.
  • In the case of scarce forage in the winter, FOUR PAWS will provide the horses with hay.
  • We will organise up to two health clinics a year where we castrate dogs and cats in the neighboring villages.
  • We will scientifically monitor the population size of the horses and the development of the programme.

Looking onwards...

After celebrating our 10 year anniversary, we have decided to adapt the programme accordingly. Due to scientific advancements in the field of fertility control, we have decided to implement a long lasting immune contraceptive called SpayVac. This contraceptive promises a long lasting effect of up to 3 years of infertility with only one dose!

If all goes well, we will implement the contraceptive starting in October 2021 when we start our tenth season.

The Wild Horses of the Danube Delta

The Wild Horses of the Danube Delta

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