Deer Population ControlDeer Population Control (Non-Lethal):
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Brief History of Fertility Control Before Immunocontraception

This article is a reprint from the Science and Conservation Center

The concept of wildlife fertility control is not new and has been investigated for many years. Most of the work was based on the fruits of human contraceptive research and therefore mirrored human contraceptive technologies. This in turn meant that until recently, the most common approach to wildlife contraception was through the use of steroid hormones, and particularly natural and synthetic estrogens, progestins, and androgens, similar to those found or used in humans.

Zoos really led the way, administering these compounds to captive animals, where delivery was not an issue, but their use in free-roaming wildlife was another issue. These compounds often worked, in a pharmacological sense, but they fell far short of the standards that permit them to be used with free-roaming wildlife.

Basically they failed because

(1) they had to be given in extremely large doses, ruling out remote delivery,

(2) they had to be administered too often,

(3) they caused a variety of health problems and pathologies in treated animals (see Munson et al. 2005),

(4) the cost was relatively high,

(5) they often had profound effects upon social behaviors,

(6) they were often unsafe to administer to pregnant animals, and

(7) they passed through the food chain to predators human and otherwise and scavengers.

Because of these shortcomings, there was little hope that they would ever be publicly acceptable for use in free-roaming wildlife by regulatory agencies. (see Kirkpatrick and Turner 1985, 1991a, 1995).

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