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that the public not only needs, but desires factual information
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International Conference in
Oxford, September 18, 2007
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
The Science and Conservation Center
2100 South Shiloh Road
Billings, MT 59106
Lecture Series, October, November, 2006
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
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
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
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.