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Evaluation of Immunocontraception in a Free-Ranging Suburban White-Tailed Deer Herd

W. David Walter, Peter J. Perkins, Allen T. Rutberg and Howard J. Kilpatrick
Wildlife Society Bulletin (1973-2006)
Vol. 30, No. 1 (Spring, 2002), pp. 186-192
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3784652
Page Count: 7
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Evaluation of Immunocontraception in a Free-Ranging Suburban White-Tailed Deer Herd
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Abstract

Successful fertility control with porcine zona pellucida (PZP) protein has been achieved in ungulates, indicating that contraception using this technique may be a viable tool to manage suburban white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). In fall 1997 and spring 1998, females of reproductive age (>1 year, n=29) in a marked suburban deer population in Connecticut were captured and injected with PZP or a placebo treatment. On average, 68% of reproductive females received annual booster treatments prior to 1 November 1997-1999. Success of initial capture and booster treatments was influenced by previous darting disturbance, season, and availability of fall forage. Initial capture of deer required less effort in spring than fall because baiting was more effective, indicating that a spring-fall vaccination protocol is preferred. A budget model created for a spring-fall protocol estimated that $33,833 ($1,128/treated deer) was needed to treat 30 deer for 2 years, with labor being the largest budget item each year (64% of total budget). Our study indicates that treatment of about 70% of a suburban white-tailed deer population is possible and a spring-fall vaccination protocol was most efficient relative to effort and cost.

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