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

Viewpoint: Measuring the effects of wildlife contraception: the argument for comparing apples with oranges

Jay F. Kirkpatrick

The Science and Conservation Center, 2100 South Shiloh Road, Billings MT 59106, USA. Email:

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 19(4) 548-552
Submitted: 8 December 2006  Accepted: 26 March 2007   Published: 4 May 2007


There are few wildlife populations existing today that can be supported without some form of management. Wildlife fertility control, as one option, has moved from the research stage to actual application with a number of species, including wild horses, urban deer, captive exotic species and even African elephants, but this approach remains controversial in many quarters. Strident debate has arisen over the possible effects of contraception on behaviour, genetics, stress and even management economics, among other parameters. Part of the debate arises from the fact that critics often fail to recognise that some form of alternative management will be applied, and a second problem arises when critics fail to identify and demand the same concern for the consequences of the alternative management approaches. Thus, any rational debate on the merits or possible effects of contraceptive management of wildlife must also recognise all alternative management approaches and apply the same concern and questions to these alternative approaches – including ‘no management’ – as are currently being applied to fertility control. Only then will the stewards of wildlife be in a position to make wise and informed decisions about management options.

Additional keyword: fertility control.


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