Deer Population Control Using Contraception
- Letter to Anna from Mark
I understand that interest in controlling deer populations using
contraception is high in some parts of New Jersey, and it is very important
that people understand the requirements for success.
First, the contraceptive method must be highly effective and long-lasting
with a single dose. Efficacy must remain high for 5 or more years without
boosting.The cost of capturing deer is high - $300 - 500 / deer on average,
even under favorable conditions. While delivering boosters using darts may
be somewhat less expensive, it still does cost time and money, and there are
significant technical challenges (e.g., how do you know how many deer have
to be boosted?).
Second, the treatment should be safe for the treated animals. It should be
safe for the treated individuals, and there should be no adverse effects on
the social organization and behavior of treated animals. pZP vaccines have
been studied for >20 years in several species (e.g., deer, horses,
elephants) and no significant adverse effects are known. pZP vaccines have
also been used extensively with zoo animals. SpayVac has been used safely in
hundreds of animals.
The only contraceptive agent that has been proven to meet the performance
criteria is SpayVac, a pZP immunocontraceptive vaccine. As concluded by
Killian et al. (2006): "...the only formulation of single-shot PZP vaccine
that appears to consistently produce a high degree of contraception lasting
multiple years is SpayVac."
[As you may be aware, there is one "blemish" on SpayVac's record: A few
years ago, the pZP used in SpayVac was exposed to 85 degrees C (185 F),
rather than the usual 75 degrees C (167 F). The pZP exposed to the higher
heat treatment lost effectiveness. Subsequent batches of SpayVac, treated at
75 degrees C, have been highly effective.]
Please feel free to give me a call if you have any questions. I have also
attached the abstract of a paper that I will deliver at the 6th
International Conference on Fertility Control for Wildlife, which will be
held in York, England, in early September.
All the best,
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