Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Fertility control in female eastern grey kangaroos using the GnRH agonist deslorelin. 2. Effects on behaviour

R. Woodward A B , M. E. Herberstein A and C. A. Herbert A C D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW 2109, Australia.

B Current address: Taronga Zoo, PO Box 20, Bradleys Head Road, Mosman, NSW 2088, Australia.

C Current address: School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: cathherbert@unsw.edu.au

Wildlife Research 33(1) 47-55 https://doi.org/10.1071/WR04114
Submitted: 9 November 2004  Accepted: 23 November 2005   Published: 7 March 2006

Abstract

In recent years fertility control has been proposed as an ethically acceptable alternative to lethal control techniques when managing overabundant kangaroo populations. A promising non-steroidal, non-immunological approach to contraception in female kangaroos involves the use of slow-release implants containing the gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist deslorelin. The practicality of using deslorelin implants as a management option is dependant on its effective inhibition of reproduction without negative physical or behavioural side-effects. This study investigated the behavioural effects of deslorelin implants in female eastern grey kangaroos. Treatment had no detectable effects on crepuscular activity. Alterations in the frequency of sexual interactions were observed in deslorelin-treated females, with a behavioural oestrus induced ~3 days after combined removal of pouch young and deslorelin administration. Copulation was observed during this early oestrous period, but conception was not achieved and pouch young were not observed in any treated females. Control females gave birth within 69.6 ± 10.4 days (mean ± s.e.m., n = 9) of placebo implant administration. The first births observed in treated animals were on Days 510, 637 and 643 after treatment. The remaining seven treated animals had not bred by the end of the study, a period of 647 days.


Acknowledgments

This project would not have been possible without the support of Ron Claassens, Anne Mouland and James Cook, whose expertise in macropod handling and husbandry made it possible to work with these animals. Thanks go to John Woodward and Simon Rossington for their support and assistance with observations during the intense observation period and to the numerous volunteers who helped with the care of the animals. Thank you to Peptech Animal Health Pty Limited, especially Dr Tim Trigg, for the generous supply of deslorelin implants and to Professor Des Cooper for his support and enthusiasm for this project. This project was supported by an ARC Linkage grant (LP0219459) awarded to Professor D.W. Cooper.


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