Deer Contraception

Talk to Ridgefield Deer Committee,

Monday Oct 25, 2004:

By Georgina Scholl. MD



Deer management through contraception remains experimental. Advances in delivery systems, coupled with improvement in the efficacy of antifertility agents, may improve the prospect for limited applications of deer contraception in the future.

The cost of manpower and materials, and the practicality of treating an adequate number of deer, will likely limit the use of immunocontraceptives to small insular herds. Managing free ranging white-tailed deer populations over large landscapes will present problems not found with more isolated deer herds. Deer contraception experts believe that isolated populations, such as those found on islands or in large fenced-in grounds, have the greatest potential for success.

Unless contraception agents can be developed that work through the animals digestion system and can be added to foods, the cost of administering the contraceptive agent to each female will be high. Once delivery systems have been perfected and approved for free ranging deer, the technique may be an important part of an integrated program for controlling population growth.

Since fertility control has no short-term effect on population size, pre-treatment culling will be an essential part of the timely resolution of deer problems with fertility control.




DEER MANAGEMENT OPTIONS for PZP diagramatic explanation and study data

Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance press release in August 2004: Research on birth control is ongoing but no contraceptive vaccine for wildlife has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA approval is necessary as there is potential for any drug used on wildlife to get into the food chain and our food supply. To date, research has been limited to captive and/or semi­isolated deer herds, however, this may expand to free-ranging herds in the near future. "This is one area of deer management that we are watching closely," explains Patricia Sesto, Director of Environmental Affairs for Wilton. "Presently, contraception is not available but we are very interested in the potential for this to be a viable management option. Unfortunately, since research is just starting on free-ranging herds, no contraceptive vaccine is expected to be on the market for at least 6-7 years." Even if birth control where available today, this method of deer herd management only stops the growth of the herd, it does not reduce the overpopulation that already exists.

Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection discusses these options in a booklet entitled "Managing Urban Deer in Connecticut." Howard Kilpatrick has a new edition due out any day.

New York Times Science Section "Putting Nature on the Pill" Aug 31 2004 plus Correspondence the following week: "Deer Contraception"