Deer Contraceptive No Magic Bullet—Or Arrow

Here’s some news that’s sure to depress the anti-hunting crowd. In a pair of recently concluded studies, a new drug being touted by animal rights organizations as a one-shot contraceptive that could prevent whitetail does from being bred for up to four years fell far short of expectations.

A just-completed 2-year study conducted on a captive deer herd in New Jersey found that the immuno-contraceptive GonaCon was only 70 percent effective one year after the animals were vaccinated. The effectiveness dropped to 55 percent for the second year.Deerdoe

Connecticut biologist Anthony DiNicola presided over the study of 51 deer at the Giralda Farms corporate center in Madison, N.J. DiNicola’s name may sound familiar to some News Hound readers, as his company, White Buffalo, Inc., has become well known for supplying sharpshooters to urban municipalities that want to control problematic deer populations.

Today, a growing number of city councils and county commissions faced with burgeoning deer herds contract White Buffalo riflemen to cull whitetails—often at $200 a head or more—instead of allowing local, experienced hunters to purchase permits for the opportunity to do so. Unfortunately, some city leaders are disturbed by the idea of seeing camouflage-wearing bowhunters in their suburban woodlots, despite the success of dozens of regulated bowhunts conducted by archery clubs and volunteer hunters in some of the most populated areas of the country.

The New Jersey test results were strikingly similar to those found in a federal study performed at a fenced military facility near Silver Springs, Maryland. In that study, 88 percent of the does remained infertile for the first year, but the vaccine’s effectiveness plummeted to 47 percent the second year.

In a story appearing in today’s Newark Star-Ledger, DiNicola admitted that not only is immuno-contraception for deer currently impractical, but it’s incredibly expensive when compared to alternatives like hunting.

DiNicola’s company now charges up to $300 to dart a single deer with a contraceptive cocktail. He estimated that to locate, mark and inoculate free-ranging deer on an annual basis would cost municipalities up to $1,000 per animal.

That sounds like the perfect sales pitch for organized urban bowhunts to me.