Control effort [killing] must be repeated year after year, for the natural response
of most animal populations to a decrease in their numbers is an increase in
productivity...

RORY PUTMAN THE NATURAL HISTORY OF DEER

 

Wildlife Forever

PNC, Inc. (Pity Not Cruelty) is a 501 (c) 3 not for profit foundation dedicated to the Protection, Needs and Care of non-human animals. PNC believes that the public not only needs, but desires factual information concerning wildlife fertility control. The information on this site comes from various sources; PNC does not necessarily endorse all of it. In particular PNC rejects the notion that animals are nothing more than pests or nuisances as if these are inherent qualities in the species.


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International Conference in Oxford, September 18, 2007

Britain’s first major academic conference on the Relationship between Animal Abuse and Human Violence will be held on Tuesday 18 September 2007, at Keble College, Oxford. The purpose of the conference is to enable people to better understand the nature of animal abuse, the motivation that leads to cruel acts, and the implications for human as well as animal welfare. During the last 30 years evidence has been accumulating of a link between animal abuse and violence to humans or anti-social behaviour. The conference will document and explore the meaning of this link and the implications that should follow for the making of social and legal policy.

The one-day conference includes 22 presentations within 2 parallel tracks, as well as keynote presentations. There will be a post conference drinks reception and gala dinner. Overnight accommodation at Keble College is available. The full academic programme can be downloaded below. The conference language will be English.

Conference Program


Response to PA Game Commission by Jay Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., January, 2007

(In the Bucks County Courier Times, January 15, 2007 the following letter by Jerry Feaser, Press Secretary for the Pennsylvania Game Commission appeared. Because of space contraints, the paper could not publish the response of Jay Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., a prize winning wildlife researcher with more than 20 years experience in the filed of contraception and wildlife reproduction. His response in its entirety follows Feaser's letter.)

The game commission is responsible for conserving and managing all wild birds and mammals in Pennsylvania and conducts many wildlife conservation programs for the public. Despite these efforts that benefit all Pennsylvanians, it is true that the agency does not receive any state tax payer funds and is supported by hunters’ dollars.

However, it is not true that the commission does not sterilize deer because hunters do not want fewer deer. Hunters have successfully reduced deer populations in most rural areas. When addressing deer conflicts in more developed areas, the agency and hunters have maintained a consistent effort to reduce deer populations with hunting and non-hunting options.

Recent research has concluded that it is unlikely that using the current sterilization methods alone will reduce the free-ranging deer population that exists throughout Pennsylvania, including lower Bucks County. In addition, fertility control is limited to experimental situations because the FDA has not ruled the drugs safe and effective for use in wildlife and are not available for use with free-ranging deer. Sterilization also is expensive with an estimated cost of up to $1,000 per deer. Research also suggests that use of hunting, alone or in combination with other management actions, may be the only way to effectively reduce free-ranging deer populations.

As part of our urban deer management plan, the Game Commission is developing a written policy on fertility control and will update the policy as science and research provides new information. For the game commission, the choice is clear: hunting costs communities nothing, and is the best option when compared to an unproven, experimental procedure that is cost prohibitive.

Jerry Feaser
Press Secretary
Pennsylvania Game Commission



I shall respond...(to Feaser's letter on "sterilization." ) That said, or written, please keep in mind that journalism regarding this subject has been, for a decade or more, embarrassingly shabby, inaccurate and misleading and for the most part reflects a lot of passionate opinions and theories but little of factual substance.

At the outset, I would like to make two points clear. First, I do not advocate the use of contraception for deer, at Tyler Park or anywhere else. I merely convey facts, data, and scientifically-supported conclusions. Urban and suburban deer problems are local issues and it is not my domain to advocate any management approach outside my home city here in Billings. The Tyler deer are someone else's deer and someone else is responsible for decisions about their management. Second, I do not deal in opinions. I deal only in facts, derived from controlled studies, appropriate analysis and peer-reviewed published data. With that stated, let's examine the article's salient points.

To begin with, "sterilization" is an inaccurate and misleading term. Contraception, which is what the debate is all about, is reversible fertility inhibition, but not sterilization. Spaying is sterilization; neutering is sterilization, but condoms, pills, diaphragms, IUDs, and immunocontraception (vaccines) are reversible and by definition, contraception. The paper's editors, and both authors should be more careful about their use of inaccurate terms.

Mr. Feaser's letter is a masterpiece of hyperbole, misinformation and dissembling. First, he makes no distinction between urban/suburban deer and rural deer and the contraceptive technology, which was developed only for deer herds where traditional management methods are not deemed legal, wise, safe or publicly acceptable. The failure to make this clear at the outset pits the hunting community against the broad concept of management by contraception.

Second, Mr. Feaser contends that "...the agency have maintained a consistent effort to reduce deer populations with hunting and non-hunting options." We all understand hunting, but I, at least, am unaware of the non-hunting efforts to reduce deer populations. He had every right to make this assertion, but then should be compelled to explain what those non-hunting efforts are.

Next he states "Recent research has concluded that it is unlikely that using current sterilization [sic] methods alone will reduce the free-ranging deer population that exists throughout Pennsylvania, including lower Bucks County." This sentence is filled with hyperbole and distractions from the issues at hand. First, he continues to label reversible contraception as "sterilization" and that is really not a terribly complex construct. Second, he once again mixes the rural deer population of all of Pennsylvania and Bucks County with discrete urban/suburban populations, apparently in an attempt to mislead. At no time, at no venue, have I or any other scientist involved in wildlife contraception suggested that contraception (or sterilization!) could solve "Pennsylvania's or Bucks County's deer population" problems. The technology in question was developed for discrete urban/suburban populations where traditional lethal methods are not deemed legal, wise, safe or publicly acceptable.

Second, he cites no references for this "research". I, on the other hand, will be happy to cite the results of actual research. Naugle at al. 2002. Reproduction (Suppl. 60): 143-153 reports on a deer contraceptive project being conducted on Fire ISland National Seashore (FINS), for the National Park Service. There are about 15 communities interspersed along the National Seashore's 30 mile length and thus far immunocontraception has reduced the population by approximately 60%. That's not an opinion. That's fact. So that I may not be accused of hyperbole too, let me make it clear here that contraception is not a good way to quickly reduce a population of deer, or any long-lived species. It can achieve zero population growth relatively fast but it takes some time to actually reduce the population, but it can - and has - been done. Next, one might go read Rutberg et al. 2004. Biological Conservation 116:243-250. This peer-reviewed paper describes a deer contraceptive project being conducted for the U. S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology, in Gaithersburg, MD. This population of deer has been reduced by approximately 40% through the exclusive use of contraception. I could cite several other papers but these will suffice for now. Incidentally, although it hasn't been published yet, the Gaithersburg data also indicates a decrease in deer-car collisions coincident with the reduction in deer population as a result of contraception.

There have been many other deer contraceptive projects, conducted by other government agencies (USDA) and academic institutions and proprietary companies, but none have been conducted longitudinally, over long periods of time, and at the population level. These other studies have tested safety, efficacy, and so forth, but not population effects.

Now Mr. Feaser next moves on the foil that most opponents use to discredit deer contraception. He states that "...FDA has not ruled the drugs safe and effective for wildlife..." and that they have to be used "experimentally". That is true as far as it goes, but Mr. Feaser fails to tell the entire story, and in doing this misrepresents what is actually going on. At least at present FDA is the regulatory authority for wildlife contraceptives (that responsibility will be shifted to the EPA, probably within the next 12 months). The usual procedure for the development of a new drug within FDA is to generate "pilot" data, which provides some reasonable but no ultimate data regarding safety and then apply for something referred to as an Investigational New Animal Drug (INAD) exemption. THis document, which exists for the immunocontraceptive in question here, "authorizes" the use of the drug by the FDA, in experimental settings. This is almost exactly what takes place with new cancer drugs for humans. Relatively few cancer drugs utilized for human medicine are FDA "approved" but rather they are used "experimentally". Thus, the FDA has deemed the immunocontraceptive in question as safe enough to use experimentally and we use it under FDA authorization. Now, the second step for the development of a commercial drug is, if no problems emerge from the use under the INAD, to move from an INAD to something known as an New Animal Drug Application (NADA). This step requires millions of dollars and many many years of additional research. We have never taken this step, for several reasons. First, there is no promise of financial return for a wildlife contraceptive. The market is just too small, thus the investment of millions of dollars just won't happen. Second, it was our philosophy that because most of the research on this immunocontraceptive (something known as porcine zona pellucida vaccine, or PZP) was originally funded with public money, over 35 years, the outcome of that research already belongs to the public and should not be used to generate profit for a proprietary company. That is a private philosophy, common to our research group and certainly not a universal attitude among scientists. In any case, we took steps to make sure the native PZP cannot be patented for use in wildlife and continue to use it under the FDA INAD. That is a far cry from Mr. Feaser's gaunt description.

Now let's add to that, that this vaccine has been around for about 35 years and much of the research focused on human contraception. It never made it to that market because (1) no one has been able to synthesize the product; it must be laboriously produced by what we refer to as "bench chemistry" on a very small scale. The failure to produce a synthetic form of the vaccine meant that a large human market could never be serviced. We labor here to manufacture about 5,000 doses a year. The second reason it never made it to the human market was the variability in the time for the antifertility effects to reverse. We see that all the time, in wild horses and deer and about 100 species of zoo animals that are currently under treatment. All the pharmaceutical companies could see was litigation. Neither of those constraints represent a safety issue, after 35 years.

Let's examine the safety issue just a little bit more. The vaccine has been used on the wild horses of Assateague Island National Seashore, in Maryland, for 18 years now, and what safety issues have arisen? Well, first, the body condition scores of the population have increased significantly (see Turner and Kirkpatrick. 2002. Reproduction. (Suppl. 60):187-195), mortality has decreased significantly (same paper), the vaccine has proven to be safe to give to pregnant animals (see Kirkpatrick et al. 1991. J. Reprod. Fert. (Suppl. 44) 321-325), doesn't cause changes in seasonal birth patterns or the health of foals born to treated mothers (see Kirklpatrick et al. J. Appl. Anim. Welfare Sci. 6:301-308) and has extended the longevity of the treated horses by more than 10 years (see Kirkpatrick and Turner 2002. J. Reprod. Fert. (Suppl. 60): 197-202; Kirkpatrick and Turner 2007. Zoo Biol. 25:1-8), nor have any behavioral changes been noted (see Powell 1999. J. Appl. Anim. Welfare Sci. 2:321-335) nor have there been any deleterious physiological changes regarding the ovary or endocrine system (see Kirkpatrick et al. 1995. Biol. Reprod. Monograph Series I: Equine Reproduction VI: 411-418; Powell and Monfort 2001. J. Appl. Anim. Welfare Sci. 4:271-284) I could go on, and cite dozens of other papers regarding the use and safety of this vaccine in other species (some 50 of them, including a lot of primates) but I think the point is made. Finally, the vaccine is a protein and ninth grade biology students who are paying attention in class know that proteins can't pass through the food chain. Does this all sound unsafe?

This explanation is a far cry from Mr. Feaser's attempt to use a sound byte, but that is what is necessary if we are to truly understand what is going on. While I must live with sound bytes and slogans from my politicians, I don't intend to accept that form of discourse in the scientific world. Let's move on.

Next. Mr. Feaser tackles the economic dimensions of deer contraception. He quotes a figure of $1,000 per deer. The cost of the vaccine is $21/dose (we, by law, must provide it at our cost of production, with no profit), the dart costs about $1.50, and the bulk of the labor to do the darting is where the real cost lies. Costs will vary from site to site, depending on who is doing the work and what they are paid. If you want to pay someone $80,000 a year to dart deer, the cost will be high; if you want to use trained volunteers the cost is less; if you use employees already employed by a park, or agency, or whatever, the cost is somewhere between. I actually can't say what the costs would be in any given site because of these variables, but I kept the books for the first two years of the Fire Island project and the costs never exceeded $10,000. That included a two or three air fares from Ohio and Montana to New York, and we treated about 150 deer. My math shows that to come out to about $66/deer. I wonder who estimated the $1,000 per deer.

Now Mr. Feaser goes on to say that "Research also suggests that the use of hunting alone or in combination with other management actions, may be the only way to effectively reduce free-ranging deer populations". If Mr. Feaser is talking about the deer in Potter County, or even all of Bucks County, I might agree, but we are not talking about the deer in Potter County or all of Bucks County. we are still talking about discrete urban/suburban deer populations. This is one more attempt to confuse the issues. And, if Mr. Feaser bothers to read the papers cited above, he knows that his statement is not factual.

He closes with descriptions of deer contraception as unproven (not accurate- see above), experimental (true, see above) and cost prohibitive (not accurate, see above).

I am not dismayed by the passion that accompanies this subject, nor am I dismayed if a community chooses not to use contraception. That is local business and not mine. What does upset me, is knowingly manipulating information, hyperbole, attempts to frighten people with skewed information and an anti-intellectual approach to debates that excludes facts and data and substitute opinion. Does any of that sound familiar on a larger scale?

Incidentally, lest anyone attempts to pigeonhole me in some social activist group, I have hunted deer for most of my life and I started in Bucks County more than 50 years ago.

You have my permission to share this response with anyone, but I certainly believe the editorial board of the newspaper in question should be required to see in just what kind of journalism they are participating.


Jay F. Kirkpatrick, Ph.D.
Director
The Science and Conservation Center
2100 South Shiloh Road
Billings, MT 59106
406-652-9719


Lecture Series, October, November, 2006


Compassionate Science:
The Evolution and Future of Wildlife Contraception

by world renowned scientist,

Jay Kirkpatrick, Ph.D.

A lecture series sponsored by PNC Foundation and NOA, a nonprofit organization

Schedule:

These events, offered as an educational opportunity, are free and open to the public, unless otherwise specified.

Saturday, October 21 at 12 noon
Luncheon Fund Raiser prior reservations required
Hosted by Sydell Gross at Ristorante Denicola
Mallard Creek Village
130 Almshead Rd #405
Richboro, Pa 18954

Sunday, October 22 at 7pm
Donations required only for dessert reception following presentation
Introduction by Rep. Daylin Leach
Bryn Mawr Film Institute
824 W. Lancaster Ave, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

Tuesday, October 24 at 12:15 pm
Campus wide event hosted by Prof. Mel Seesholtz
Abington College, Penn State
Banquet Room, Lares Building, park in Visitors' Lot
1600 Woodland Road, Abington, PA 19001

Tuesday, October 24 at 7 pm
Farm Park Preservation Association
Norristown Public Library, Montgomery County
1001 Powell St; on site parking: Swede Street
Norristown, Pa 19401
For directions 610 278 5100 or www.mc-npl.org

Wednesday, October 25 at 7:30
Jewish Community Center
702 N. 22nd Streets
Allentown, PA , 18104

Thursday, October 26 at 4pm
Moravian College
1200 Main Street
Bethelehem, PA 18018

Sunday, October 29 at 3 pm
Drexel University, LeBow College of Business
Matheson Hall, Rm. 109
33-32 Market Street
Philadelphia, Pa

Wednesday, November 1 at 7:30 pm
Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh. PA 15213

Friday, November 3 at 7:30 pm
Schweitzer Group, The Unitarian Universalist Church of the South Hills (Sunnyhill)
1240 Washington Road
Pittsburgh. Pa 15228

For further information call toll free 1-866-626-4625

Message from the Field
Jay Kirkpatrick, Ph.D.

Spring 2002: "I just returned from Assateague and it was spectacular. We will be having ZERO foals there this year and the population is still exactly as it was in 1995 and no horses have been removed and none have even been touched by more than our darts. Not only that, they look better than ever and even the visitors remark about how good they look. Springboarding off the Assateague project, we have Carrot Island horses under treatment in NC and Cape Lookout horses under treatment too and the results are showing up already even though we only started there in 2000. And in September we started the Pryor Mountain horses out here. The whole thing is working in the most spectacular fashion and the animals are receiving the benefits.