Wildlife contraceptive

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Wildlife contraceptives of various kinds are under development. Contraceptives such as these are intended to control population growth among both tame and wild animals.

White-tailed deer may be controlled with contraceptives in suburban areas, where they are sometimes a nuisance. In parts of the United States, does are shot with darts containing a contraceptive vaccine, rendering them temporarily infertile.[1] The Humane Society of the United States runs a deer birth control program, but it is experimental; it may not be cost-effective in the long run.[1][2][needs update] It may cost $300[2] to $1000[1] per deer.

One contraceptive vaccine used is porcine zona pellucida (PZP), or derivatives. This form of immunocontraception prevents sperm from accessing an ovum.[3] Another form of deer contraception, called GonaCon, produces antibodies to sex drive hormones in the deer, causing them to lose interest in mating.[4]

Similar forms of injectable contraceptive are being studied for use in elk[5] and gray squirrels.[6]

Oral contraceptives may also be developed for population control among a variety of animals, including deer, feral pigs, coyotes, cougars, dogs and cats.[7] One product that has success in mice, rats, and dogs originally went by the name Mouseopause, but was approved for commercial use under the name ContraPest.[8]

Pigeons have been a target for experimental contraceptives for decades.[9] An oral contraceptive is in use for the control of Canada geese.[5]

A slow-release hormonal contraceptive implant for female Tasmanian devils is under development. While it may seem counter-intuitive to develop contraceptives for an endangered animal, their use is intended to promote the wild behaviour of mating freely, but without certain females over-contributing to the next generation, which "can have long-term genetic consequences for the insurance population". Contraceptive trials in male devils showed that their testosterone increased, instead of decreasing as other male mammals' testosterone does.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Schuerman, M. Birth Control for Deer?. Audubon February 8, 2002.
  2. ^ a b Barr, Cameron W. (2004-08-19). "A Deer Contraceptive Is Turning Off the Heat". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2021-02-14.
  3. ^ Broache, Anne (October 2005). "Oh Deer!". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 2021-02-14.
  4. ^ "Deer 'pill' curbs aggressive mating". BBC News. 2011-09-01. Retrieved 2021-02-14.
  5. ^ a b Boyle, Rebecca (2009-03-03). "Birth Control for Animals". Popular Science. Retrieved 2021-02-14.
  6. ^ Dalhouse, D. Squirrel contraceptive research under way. Clemson University News March 10, 2008.
  7. ^ "Oral Contraceptives Could Work For Dogs, Cats, Pigs, Maybe Even Deer And Coyotes". ScienceDaily. 2008-02-25. Retrieved 2021-02-14.
  8. ^ "ContraPest Rodent Control Product Wins EPA Approval". Pest Control Technology, GIA Media, Inc. 12 August 2016. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  9. ^ Mooallem, Jon (2006-10-15). "Pigeon Wars". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-02-14.
  10. ^ "Tasmanian Devil Contraception Trial shows Early Promise". Save the Tasmanian Devil. 2 December 2014. Retrieved 6 January 2015.

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