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Deer Management

Deer Population Control (Non-Lethal)
Characteristics of the Ideal Wildlife Contraceptive

This article is a reprint from the Science and Conservation Center

The failure to achieve practical results with steroid hormones led to a re-examination of the problem. It became apparent by the early 1990s that research was proceeding without a “gold standard” by which to evaluate each new approach. Without such a standard, evaluation of wildlife contraceptives could be liked to a discussion of law without a Constitution. Thus, a theoretical “standard” was created and included:

Contraceptive effectiveness of at least 90%

The ability to deliver the agent remotely, without capture

Reversibility of contraceptive effects (more important for some species than others)

Safety for use in pregnant animals

Absence of significant health side-effects, short- or long-term

No passage of the contraceptive agent through the food chain

Minimal effect upon individual and social behaviors

Low cost

This list was originally created for wild horses contraceptives and not all items may be applicable to all species. For example, reversibility of contraceptive action is essential for wild horse population but may not be considered desirable for urban deer. Despite these species-specific differences, these characteristics above provide a reasonable guideline and any discussions of new wildlife contraceptive agents or discussions of current agents should attend to these characteristics (see Kirkpatrick and Turner 1985, 1991a).

For more information, see http://www.zoomontana.org/conservation_center/

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