White-Tails in the CIty
White-Tails in the CItyCourtesy mickipicki
For wildlife biologists, most concerns about animal populations revolve around unnatural declines. Due to things like human development, habitat loss, climate change, pollutants and diseases that make animals sick, many wildlife populations are disappearing at an alarming rate.

Some species, however, are undergoing steep increases in population, causing headaches for humans. The recent crash of US Airways flight 1549 due to a bird strike is one extreme example.

Not surprisingly, most of the perceived problems resulting from animal population growth are coming from urban and suburban areas. Scientists are looking for ways to control the booming populations of deer, geese, pigeons and other species that have adapted to the changes humans have made to the environment. Since hunting or trapping is offensive to so many people, biologists are looking for new solutions and think that they may have found one in wildlife birth control.

At the National Wildlife Research Center in Fort Collins, Colorado, biologists have developed a one-a-day contraceptive pill for geese and pigeons, and are working on a one-time injectable contraceptive for white-tailed deer. These wildlife birth control methods work on the same principal as human birth control, disrupting the animal's reproductive cycle or preventing fertilization from occurring.

The whole issue of wildlife population control brings up an interesting paradox. People love animals and nature, or at least, they love the idea of animals and nature as portrayed by the folks at Disney. People also love their yards and gardens, their pets and cars and airplanes, all of which provide ample opportunity for conflict with our furry and feathered friends.

It's worth remembering that many of the animals we consider pests today were once hunted to near extinction, and that it was the efforts of conservation biologists, along with hunters and fisherpeople, that helped to bring back many of these iconic species.

So, is birth control for Bambi really the answer? I'm not sure, though I do have lots of questions, including whether this kind of animal birth control will contribute to the already harmful effects that hormones found in human birth control are having on the environment.

Source: Popular Science

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Thor's picture
Thor says:

Some animals have their own natural forms of birth control. How do I know this? In SMM's Big Backyard we have a Native American medicine garden. One section of plants there are grown to be injested for birth control. I asked the gardener – a Native American himself – how people back in the day knew such plants could provide birth control. He told me they would watch what plants the animals ate and take notice of which animals were not getting pregnant. Just another example of how nature rocks!

posted on Fri, 03/06/2009 - 1:34pm
shanai's picture
shanai says:

Cool! You learn something everyday...

posted on Fri, 03/06/2009 - 1:36pm
Candace's picture
Candace says:

hahah..birthcontrol....seriously now. now, i can only immagine how expensive that could be...

posted on Sat, 03/14/2009 - 8:53pm
Candace's picture
Candace says:

birthcontrol, is made for humans...not animals. now, this is why there is hunting in the fall / early winter. let me break it down like this:
hunting = food for us humans = keeping the population of deer down..

posted on Sat, 03/14/2009 - 8:56pm
shanai's picture
shanai says:

Lots of people would agree with you, Candace. Hunting is one important way to control the population of species like deer and other game animals. It's no surprise that hunters have traditionally been part of the movements to save these species and the habitats they need to survive.

But what about when the animals live in places that they can't be easily hunted, like cities or suburbs too full of humans to make hunting safe? What about species that most people don't want to hunt or eat? What about the fact that many of the species we worry about conserving got that way (in part) because of over-hunting or fishing?

I'm not saying I agree that birth control for animals is the best solution (I would need more info on how it effects the surrounding environment), but I can see how it would be an appealing one for conservation biologists.

posted on Mon, 03/16/2009 - 12:06am

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