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] It may cost $300[2] to $1000[1] per deer.

The vaccine used is porcine zona pellucida (PZP), or derivatives.[3] 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, C. W. A Deer Contraceptive Is Turning Off the Heat. Washington Post August 19, 2004.
  3. ^ a b Broache, A. Oh Deer! Smithsonian October 2005.
  4. ^ McGrath, M. Deer 'pill' curbs aggressive mating. BBCNews September 1, 2011.
  5. ^ a b Boyle, R. Birth Control for Animals. Popular Science March 3, 2009.
  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. Science News February 25, 2008.
  8. ^ "ContraPest Rodent Control Product Wins EPA Approval". Pest Control Technology, GIA Media, Inc. 12 August 2016. Retrieved 11 November 2016. 
  9. ^ Mooallem, J. Pigeon Wars. New York Times October 15, 2006.
  10. ^ "Tasmanian Devil Contraception Trial shows Early Promise". Save the Tasmanian Devil. 2 December 2014. Retrieved 6 January 2015.