Prospects for immunocontraception in feral horse population control: exploring novel targets for an equine fertility vaccine.
Swegen A., Aitken RJ.
Feral horses populate vast land areas and often induce significant ecological and economic damage throughout the landscape. Non-lethal population control methods are considered favourable in light of animal welfare, social and ethical considerations; however, no single effective, safe and species-specific contraceptive agent is currently available for use in free-ranging wild and feral horses. This review explores aspects of equine reproductive physiology that may provide avenues for the development of specific and long-lasting immunocontraceptive vaccines and some of the novel strategies that may be employed to facilitate appropriate antigen discovery in future research. Potential antigen targets pertaining to spermatozoa, the ovary and oocyte, as well as the early conceptus and its associated factors, are reviewed in the context of their suitability for immunocontraceptive vaccine development.