Deer Birth Control, Contraception

Gonacon, a deer birth control product. Spayvac, another product.
More on Gonacon: Development of Injectable and Oral Contraceptive Technologies and Their Assessment for Wildlife Population and Disease Management   Also see    On July 6, 2017, the EPA approved an application to register ZonaStat-H, a fertility control vaccine that will provide a humane management tool for managers of deer populations.

Deer Birth Control and Contraception Research

Wildlife Contraception and Political Cuisinarts JF Kirkpatrick, JW Turner - Groupthink in Science, 2020
... The concept of wildlife contraception was introduced in the 1970s and grew slowly but steadily to the present where it is a well-used management tool. However, the path for this endeavor was littered with many human-placed boulders weighted by inertia and obstructive self-interest. Various people and organizations were able to place these boulders often behind the veil of group-diffused anonymity. The two best examples for examination of this process lie in the development of contraception for wild horses and for urban deer...

... Previous reports have demonstrated gradual reductions of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) populations through immunocontraception, with stabilization occurring after 2–4 yr of treatment, and subsequent reductions of 6–10% annually. These studies employed porcine zona pellucida (PZP) vaccines that required two initial treatments and annual retreatments. From 2005 to 2010, 258 adult and yearling female deer on Fripp Island, South Carolina, were treated with one of several PZP preparations designed to produce 2+ yr of effective contraception with a single treatment... From 2005 to 2011, deer density on Fripp Island declined by 50%, from 72 deer/km2 to 36 deer/km2, an average annual reduction of 11%. In contrast, population density on the Hunting Island control site fluctuated between 2005 and 2011, averaging 23 deer/km2 (range, 19–28 deer/km2)...

Effects of GonaCon immunocontraceptive vaccine in free‐ranging female Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni) JG Powers, RJ Monello, MA Wild, TR Spraker… - Wildlife Society Bulletin, 2014
... In January 2008, we captured 120 mature female elk in Rocky Mountain National Park (CO, USA), determined pregnancy status, and randomly assigned them to treated (n = 60; 1.5 mL of GonaCon) or control (n = 60; 1.5 mL of saline) groups... We conclude that GonaCon is effective at reducing pregnancy for 1–2 years post-vaccination and is strongly associated with sterile inflammation at the site of injection. Similar to other species, the vaccine is less effective in elk under free-ranging conditions than those in a captive environment.

... Over a 7-year period, we assessed the immune response of African elephants to two SpayVac formulations: non-aqueous (n=3) and aqueous (n=3) emulsions. pZP antibody titers
raised by the non-aqueous SpayVac formulation were first detected 4 weeks post-vaccination but did not peak until after 1 year, after which they remained consistently elevated through 7 years. This study demonstrated the ability of a single-dose of non-aqueous SpayVac to elicit an antibody response in African elephants for 7 years...

Effectiveness of Spayvac® for Reducing White-tailed Deer Fertility Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 43(4), 2007, pp. 726-730
Shawn L. Locke1,5, Matthew W. Cook1, Louis A. Harveson2, Donald S. Davis3, Roel R. Lopez1,Nova J. Silvy1 and Mark A. Fraker4
.. In 2003, efforts to control white-tailed deer numbers were initiated at the National Aeronautical and Space Agency’s(NASA) Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, using the long-lasting, single-dose contraceptive SpayVac® ,,, Between 2003 and 2004, we monitored 45 adult female deer (34 treated with SpayVac®, 11 controls treated with a placebo). Fawning rate over 2 yr for deer treated with SpayVac® >30 days prior to the rut was 0% (n=31), whereas the fawning rate for control deer was 78% (n=11). Inoculation 1 mo prior to the breeding season was sufficient time to achieve fertility control. We conclude that SpayVac® can effectively reduce the fertility of urban white-tailed deer.

Cost effective humane solution to Valley Forge Deer Management December 4, 2010 Pennsylvania
Studies show that immunoncontraception leads to a rapid reduction in deer population of 30-40 percent in 3 years. In 5-6 years, that number reaches goal levels of 80-90 percent reduction. Valley Forge is talking about a 4-year killing program, so while the National Park Service is busy killing, the deer will actually be re-populating each spring—the compensatory rebound effect seen with killing deer to reduce numbers. Efficiency this is not. But with contraception, there isn’t a sharp decline in deer populations, and, instead, the population will level off in a more natural and sustainable manner....the cost for maintaining a sharpshooter program will remain constant as the deer population rebounds in response to rapid reduction, while the cost for treating a population of deer with contraceptive vaccines declines and stabilizes over time. This includes the often-overlooked cost of additional security needed to sequester the area for sharpshooters and patrol for accidental incursion from the public while shooting is taking place. In contrast, contraception typically costs from $261 to $513 per doe for the first year, but falls to $88 to $103 in subsequent years. These costs reflect the fact that capture/sedation of deer is often conducted initially for research parameters, but is not required in subsequent years.

Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick presents research supporting deer contraception -- double click for full screen

in white-tailed deer  Karl D. Malcolma,∗, Timothy R. Van Deelena, David Drakea, Darrel J. Kesler b, Kurt C. VerCauterenc.  Animal Reproduction Science 117 (2010) 261–265
...  Two of 8 does that received IUDs prior to the breeding season and survived to the end of the study became pregnant (due to loss of the implant) during the second year while all (n = 16) does without implants conceived. Cervical changes associated with early pregnancy made trans-cervical implantation after the breeding season challenging,
and resulted in improperly placed IUDs in 2 treated does...

EPA approves horse contraceptive February 17, 2012 Wyoming, Casper Star-Tribune Online
Dr. Jay F. Kirkpatrick believes the key to wildlife population control isn't in culling out the existing population but in addressing its reproduction. "If you remove them -- if that's your major management approach _ you're not addressing the problem, you're addressing the symptom," he said. "If you attack reproduction, you get to the source of the problem." ... porcine zona pellucida (PZP), the active ingredient in a contraceptive vaccine approved on Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency for use in horses.

Jay Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., a prize winning wildlife researcher with more than 20 years experience in the filed of contraception and wildlife reproduction. It's here and it works. Hunting public has been trying to negate and lie about the effectiveness, cost and safety of IC ‎(Immunocontraception)‎ - 2008

Factors contributing to the success of a single-shot, multiyear PZP immunocon-traceptive vaccine for white-tailed deer  Miller, LAView Profile; Fagerstone, KA; Wagner, D C; Killian, G JView Profile. Human-Wildlife Conflicts3.1 (2009): 103-115
     We evaluated 6 different porcine zona pellucida (PZP) preparations used as a single-shot vaccine for multiyear contraception of captive white-tailed deer (Odocoileus vir-ginianus). The study compared 2 PZP preparation technologies from ImmunoVaccine Technologies (IVT) and National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) over a 7-year period. The study compared both the use of oil in an emulsion and in suspension delivery, as well as replacement of the oil with an alum adjuvant. The study demonstrated that the oil emulsion adjuvant provided the longest lasting response. PZP isolated by the IVT provides a longer-lasting response than the preparation used by NWRC. The Spayvac and IVT-PZP vaccines presented in an emulsion form with AdjuVac produce a single-shot immunocontraceptive vaccine lasting up to 7 years.

J Martinez-Guijosa, L Casades-Marti… - European Journal of Wildlife …, 2020
...  Potential tools for deer management include the delivery of contraceptives ... Our results show that alfalfa baits are the least palatable but the most deer-selective type of bait, whereas feed and molasses baits are highly palatable but low specific (mean bait consumption rates on the ground were 0.811, 0.949, and 0.955, respectively). The appropriate season for oral treatments using alfalfa baits both on the ground and in deer feeders is late summer (mean bait consumption rate on the ground for alfalfa-based baits was 0.939 in summer period). These results indicate that alfalfa baits are sufficiently palatable and specific in summer for them to be an efficient means to deliver treatments to red deer in Mediterranean ecosystems...

... Native porcine zona pellucida (PZP)-based contraceptive vaccines have shown their utility in the management of the population of both captive and free-ranging wild horses and white-tailed deer. Long-term use of the PZP-based contraceptive vaccines has also demonstrated their safety. Ideally single injection of the contraceptive vaccine should elicit long lasting immune response and desired contraceptive efficacy, which will require development of novel vaccine delivery platforms and more potent adjuvants...

... , the Environmental Protection Agency has approved the registration of the immunocontraceptive vaccine, Zonastat- D, for the management of deer populations.  Similar to the Zonastat-H vaccine, whose use in the humane control of wild horse populations is well established and effective ...  When used properly, PZP reduces fawning rates by 85 to 90 percent...

Too Many Deer? Try Birth Control (Op-Ed) June 7, 2014 Maryland, Live Science ·
... culls must occur year after year ... Each cull removes a high percentage of the population, but surviving female deer continue to reproduce, while outside deer move in to replace those culled.... after decades of research, scientists and animal advocates believe nonlethal methods to reduce the deer population are ready for widespread adoption. These include surgical sterilization and the contraceptive vaccine PZP ...

...  by the turn of century actual successful management of certain species was well underway... an unanticipated backlash from state and federal wildlife agencies, and some animal protection groups slowed progress, particularly in application of the science to free-ranging wildlife populations. Today the science has progressed to the point where actual management could alleviate many problems but the sociopolitical dimensions of this science have slowed progress and thrown up many non-scientific hurdles (state legislation in particular). This short history presents a classic case of a general public and political system that cannot keep pace with new scientific developments....

From the pen to the Field: Real-World Wildlife Contraception JW Turner Jr, AT Rutberg - Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 2013
...There are only two nonlethal approaches with which to manage wildlife populations: remove excess individuals or decrease reproductive rates. In the case of wild horse management, the latter has already been shown to be a more humane and less costly approach....  In this assessment, we will highlight the capability for coincident pursuit of research and management and will explore field considerations applicable to many species where fertility control has potential as a management tool.

... The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF)... is the agency responsible for the regulation and enforcement of wildlife-related laws and restrictions on wildlife management or research in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is at the discretion of this agency to grant permission and a special permit to conduct scientific research on these experimental techniques... The City of Fairfax is conducting an experimental research study to sterilize deer within the city limits, which began in 2014. This research study will last five years and should provide guidance to VDGIF and regional land managers as to the effectiveness and cost of sterilization for free-ranging deer in a suburban/urban environment... 
     Two drugs currently exist as a form of birth control to suppress fertility in adult, female white-tailed deer: porcine zona pellucida (PZP) vaccine and GonaCon.  PZP was first developed in 1972. PZP has not gained FDA or EPA approval for commercial use on deer. In 2012, EPA formally registered the PZP vaccine for use as a contraceptive in wild horses and burros but this registration has not yet been expanded to white-tailed deer and other wildlife.
     GonaCon is the newest immunocontraceptive drug and was developed in 1998. GonaCon was registered with the EPA in September 2009 as a restricted use product for contraception of adult, female white-tailed deer via hand injection.  These methods have proven to be generally successful with captive deer, but present complications when dealing with deer that are free-ranging. Immunocontraceptives, like PZP and GonaCon, have not been approved for general use in Virginia. As research advances, fertility control methods may hold promise for future use as an effective non-lethal deer management tool.

     Tissue residues were determined after intramuscular injection of butorphanol, azaperone, medetomidine, atipamezole, and naltrexone in 33 white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). At day 11 post injection (PI), and day 21 PI, none of anesthetics or reversal drugs were detected ≥0.01 ppm in any of the liver and muscle samples tested.

State-Level Approaches to Managing the Use of Contraceptives in Wildlife in the United States JD Eisemann, JR O'Hare, KA Fagerstone - Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 2013
...The registration of GonaCon™ Immunocontraceptive Vaccine for use in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and OvoControl for use in Canada geese (Branta canadensis) and pigeons (Columba livia) has caused state wildlife and land management agencies to review their regulatory authority over the use of contraceptives in wildlife. As a result, many states are taking steps to ensure legislation or policies are current with emerging technologies. This article examines the various approaches states are taking to regulate the use of contraceptives...

Maryland can now use birth control to curb deer population May 13, 2011 Maryland Management Cumberland Times-News 
Maryland has become the first state to approve the use of Gonacon, a deer birth control product, but the state's director of wildlife said Friday he can't imagine it ever being used in what he termed the open landscape. ...“This is the only immuno-contraceptive for deer that has federal approval,” said Paul Peditto, director of the Wildlife and Heritage Service. ... “It will cost up to $1,000 to apply it to a deer,” Peditto said. The deer must first be shot via dart gun to tranquilize it before Gonacon can be injected. EPA requires that the deer be tagged so that it can be identified as having been treated. 

Managing Wildlife with Contraception: Why Is It Taking So Long? AT Rutberg - Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 2013
Biologists have been testing wildlife contraceptives in the field for nearly a half century. Although effective new contraceptive agents have been identified, new delivery technologies developed, and some success with population management demonstrated, progress in this area should be further along. Why is it taking so long? First, the task is complex. Most drugs and vaccines fail in development... But there has also been focused resistance to the implementation of wildlife contraceptive studies and to the dissemination of results such studies have produced... As the institutional affiliations of participants of the 7th International Conference on Fertility Control for Wildlife confirmed, wildlife contraception has its ethical roots in the animal welfare and integrated pest-management communities. Absent from the discussion are the conservation community and the values they represent...

CJ Joonè, ML Schulman, HJ Bertschinger - Theriogenology, 2016
... Despite more than forty years of research into zona pellucida (ZP)-based vaccines, relatively little is known about their mechanism of action ... Further investigation of ovarian function in species believed to be resistant to the ovarian effects of anti-ZP vaccines is warranted. To this end, anti-Müllerian hormone may provide a novel tool for the assessment of ovarian function during ZP-based immunocontraception, particularly in wildlife species not amenable to frequent clinical examination...

Welsh deer 'could be given the pill' February 27, 2011 Wales WalesOnline by Claire Miller, Wales On Sunday WALES' wild deer could be given the pill to keep numbers under control, amid fears the animals pose a serious road accident threat. The nation's booming wild deer population could top 55000 by 2015, from a population of around 16,000 in 2008. While there is currently no immuno-contraception method available for deer, Defra research into oral contraceptives is ongoing, with work on wild boar and urban badgers due to report this year, with a view to beginning testing on deer.

Modeling deer herd management: sterilization is a viable option . Available online 30 June 2003. James L. Boone Institute of Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA, Richard G. Wiegert Department of Zoology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
... The number of annual sterilizations must be calculated based on the number of fertile females remaining in the herd, not on total herd size, and the number of annual sterilizations must be greatly reduced before total herd size decreases significantly. For Cumberland Island National Seashore, GA, the model predicts that the herd of 1500 deer can be controlled at 750. Over 3 years, an initial rate of 200 sterilizations per year is reduced to a constant rate of 42 per year. If the current levels of hunting and predation continue, the initial number of sterilizations is reduced from 200 to 81, but the constant annual rate increases to 58.

Kelly R. Perry, Wendy M. Arjo, Kimberly S. Bynum, Lowell A. Miller  USDA
... This study assessed the efficacy of two different GnRH-KLH (keyhole limpet hemocyanin) vaccine designs in a single-injection study, to determine if Mycobacterium avium bacterium in the adjuvant is necessary for the success of a single-injection contraceptive vaccine. Forty-two captive female black-tailed deer were divided into 3 groups.... Significant difference was found between GonaCon™ and GnRH-DD (P = 0.055). Results suggest that M. avium in the AdjuVac™ adjuvant is essential for the success of the single-injection GnRH vaccine GonaCon™. The development of a single-injection vaccine will increase the practicality and lower the cost of using immunocontraception as a tool to control deer populations...

Horse overpopulation addressed by locally produced wildlife contraceptive vaccine February 16, 2012 Montana, KTVQ Billings News
The vaccine has been used on wild horses and other species including urban deer for more than 20 years under FDA experimental use. "We didn't solve the cat and dog problem by creating more kill shelters. We did it with spay and neuter programs...A recent United States Geological Survey economics study indicates the vaccine could save almost $8-million dollars annually in the management of western wild horses.