Why deer contraceptives are not used in Michigan for free-roaming deer at this time

Deer contraceptives for wildlife are now regulated at the federal level by the EPA. PZP, the immunocontraceptive promoted by the Humane Society of the US, is accepted by the EPA for wild horses, but not for free-roaming populations of white-tailed deer. It does not seem likely that Michigan DNR would approve a drug that is not approved by the EPA, however much they would be willing to “look into” the subject.

The main federal agency that has been conducing research to evaluate wildlife contraceptives is the US Department of Agriculture. Here’s what they say about PZP at

“The PZP vaccine is a highly effective contraceptive, but unfortunately it causes multiple estrous cycles in female deer. These multiple cycles and the recurrent sexual activity (and deer movements) associated with them may increase deer-vehicle collisions and other deer-human conflicts. The PZP vaccine does not seem to cause multiple estrous cycles in other species on which it has been tested, and it may prove to be a highly useful infertility agent for other wildlife.”

Another immunocontraceptive, GonaCon, has actually been accepted by the EPA for use in female white-tailed deer one year of age and older. GonaCon claims the advantage of avoiding the need for booster shots, but it is administered by trapping the deer and injecting the drug. See http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/content/2010/02/deercontra.shtml

Gonacon’s effectiveness is only about 50% in preventing pregnancy. EPA classifies it as a “restricted-use pesticide, and all users must be certified pesticide applicators. Only USDA-WS or state wildlife management agency personnel or individuals working under their authority can use it. In order for GonaCon to be used in any given state, it must also be registered with the state and approved for use by the state fish and game/natural resource agency.” The State of Michigan has not approved GonaCon for use on deer in Michigan.

Bernie Banet

#A2manydeer #deercontraceptives

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