Review posted June 3, 2013.
Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 2012. 80 pages.
With lots of beautiful pictures, this book talks about scientists who manage herds of wild horses, particularly on Assateague Island in Virginia and Maryland, but also out west, in the Pryor Mountains of Montana.
It’s interesting that the problem the scientists are trying to solve actually sprang from their protected status. Without predators any longer, the numbers of horses in the herd became too large. So the scientists spent years developing a contraceptive vaccine. Then they shoot the horses yearly with a dart to prevent pregnancy. It turned out, though, that when mares gave birth to fewer foals, the mares lived much longer.
The book talks about the process of developing the vaccine and then delivering it via dart rifle. Along the way, it talks about the history of wild horses and interesting facts about them. It follows scientists who have given their lives to studying the horses, as well as the status of the horses today.
And did I mention the photos? There are color photos on every spread. The design of the book is lovely, at times with the color of the page changed to complement the photos on that spread. Because of the local interest in nearby Assateague, we chose this book as part of our Summer Reading Program featured books this year in Fairfax County.