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Deer Population Control (Non-Lethal)
Ethical and Social Issues

This article is a reprint from the Science and Conservation Center

The entire subject of wildlife contraception is attended by a variety of strongly held attitudes both favoring and objecting to this approach. Public discussions are seldom rational. For example, despite the obvious limitations to the available technology, some advocates will make loud and unrealistic claims that wildlife contraception can one day completely replace hunting. On the other side, and despite evidence to the contrary, opponents will express fears of harm from eating treated animals, or will object on the basis of high cost, or will insist that a problem that took 20 years to develop be solved in one year. Anyone seriously considering involving themselves or their community in wildlife contraception should first read Kirkpatrrick and Turner 1995, 1997a,b. At very least, do not expect unemotional and dispassionate discussions to occur when this topic is broached (see Kirklpatrick and Turner 1995,1997a; Kikrpatrick and Points 1997; Porton 2005).

The most serious ethical consideration is when to manage and why. Should wildlife populations be reduced by any method because they inconvenience humans? Should seals be treated with a contraceptive because they are suspected of harming the economy of a fishing village? Should wolves be treated because they are eating caribou that sport hunters spend a lot of money to shoot? Should an endangered species be treated? Who makes the decisions, and on what basis? These are serious questions involving the ethics of both science and wildlife management and they must be considered before application of this technology is applied to our wildlife resources.

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