Maryland has approved the use of the contraceptive GonaCon for white-tailed deer. It is the first state to do so. The deer must be sedated so they can be injected with the drug, and EPA regulations require the treated deer to be tagged. (Hunters are warned not to eat the meat of the treated deer.) The estimated cost of treating each deer is $1,000. Because of the expense, the treatment is not expected to be used often, and then only in suburban and urban areas under special circumstances.
The USDA has a fact sheet on GonaCon. It is listed as the producer of the drug in the EPA’s fact sheet. The USDA fact sheet notes: “In 2006, the regulatory authority for contraceptives for wildlife and feral animals was moved from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).” The USDA fact sheet has links to further information on GonaCon.
GonaCon can be used in other mammals, and has been tested in ground squirrels in California.
Photo: Steve Hillebrand, courtesy US Fish and Wildlife