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Does Immunocontraception Improve Condition of Free-Ranging Female White-Tailed Deer?

W. David Walter, Howard J. Kilpatrick and Michael A. Gregonis
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 67, No. 4 (Oct., 2003), pp. 762-766
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3802683
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3802683
Page Count: 5
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Does Immunocontraception Improve Condition of Free-Ranging Female White-Tailed Deer?
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Abstract

Researchers have suggested that the absence of pregnancy and lactation in contracepted deer would result in better body condition compared to pregnant deer. We collected data on body weight, Kistner score, and kidney-fat index (KFI) from white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) harvested in November and December 2000 after a 3-year immunocontraceptive study. We found no difference in weight, Kistner score, or KFI between contracepted (barren ≥2 yr) and noncontracepted (reproductive ≥2 yr) deer. In the short term, adult deer that were barren and fertile the year prior to removal had similar weights, Kistner scores, and KFIs. Pregnant deer were able to rebound from the energetically demanding gestation and lactation of pregnancy to a condition comparable to contracepted deer. We concluded that the lack of gestation and lactation due to immunocontraceptive treatment likely would not improve deer condition going into the forage-limited winter period.

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