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The wild horses of Letea: First success for the FOUR PAWS birth control project


About 500 wild horses live in the forest of Letea, a biosphere reserve and part of the UNESCO World Heritage in the Romanian Danube Delta. For the past few years, their increasing population has presented a growing problem for the vegetation. This increase lead to the decision of the Romanian authorities, to reduce the number of animals by killing them. Upon learning of this decision, FOUR PAWS acted immediately. After several intensive talks and meetings, FOUR PAWS was able to stop the killings and instead develop an action plan for the Romanian wild horses. In less than one year of its start, the plan has already shown success.

Successful birth control by FOUR PAWS

To reduce the horse population of Letea successively, FOUR PAWS has been operating a birth control program. The mares receive a contraceptive vaccine, which similarly to other vaccinations, needs to be repeated annually, before each mating season. A surgical castration of mares or stallions would, in the case of wild horses, lead to a severe impairment of the animals. So far, FOUR PAWS has vaccinated 100 mares and has boostered 50 others.

Wild horses have been native to Romania for more than 400 years

© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

The approximately 500 wild horses from the Romanian Danube Delta have a touching history. Their ancestors arrived, through the Tatars in Romania, and settled there, about 400 years ago. The wild horses, who have been living there for these centuries, were eventually joined by former workhorses, who after the collapse of the USSR from 1989, were abandoned because they were no longer needed on the collective farms. Over the years, the horse population increased and aside from grasses, the horses turned to eating protected flowers and tree barks, which became a problem to the biosphere reserve.

© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

FOUR PAWS stresses protection for the wild horses of Letea

In addition to the annual vaccinations, a FOUR PAWS team consisting of experienced veterinarians, supervise the wild horses annually, monitoring the effects of the birth control project. Elderly and sick animals receive medical attention. When food is scarce, FOUR PAWS brings hay to the animals. All in all, FOUR PAWS is intensively committed to placing the wild horses of the Danube Delta under natural reserve protection, in order to protect them from abuse and violence.