Reproduction, Fertility and Development Reproduction, Fertility and Development Society
Vertebrate reproductive science and technology

Case studies in wildlife immunocontraception: wild and feral equids and white-tailed deer

J. F. Kirkpatrick, J. W. Turner Jr, I. K. M. Liu, R. Fayrer-Hosken and A. T. Rutberg

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 9(1) 105 - 110
Published: 1997


Non-lethal management methods are required for wild equids that are protected by law and for deer inhabiting areas where lethal controls are not legal or safe. Single or multiple inoculations of porcine zona pellucida (PZP) vaccine have been delivered to wild horses and deer by means of darts. Contraceptive efficacy in horses after two inoculations ranged from 90% to 100%, and after a single inoculation ranged from 19% to 28%. Mares given a controlled-release form of the vaccine had foaling rates ranging from 7% to 20%. No detectable changes in social organization or behaviours among treated horses occurred. Contraceptive effects were reversible after 4 consecutive years of treatment but 5–7 years of treatment resulted in ovulation failure and decreased urinary oestrogen concentrations. Among deer, two inoculations were 70–100% effective in preventing fawns, but one inoculation yielded a contraceptive efficacy of ≤20%, with pregnancies occurring late in the breeding season; a single annual booster inoculation reduced fertility to 20% in the second year. Energy costs of extended breeding seasons were less than those resulting from pregnancy. After two years of treatment, ovaries appeared normal. These studies suggest that PZP immunocontraception can be successfully applied to certain free-roaming populations of wild horses and deer.

© CSIRO 1997

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