"I don't know what the terrain is like in India, but I'm sure it is different than that in Fairfield County," Kilpatrick said Friday. "It doesn't sound feasible." Kilpatrick said there have been numerous studies with free-ranging white-tail deer in the U.S. in which fertility control didn't work. He noted that "too many vaccine-treated deer are still producing fawns" for fertility control to work at this point in the vaccine's development. "Things may change in the next 10 years," Kilpatrick said. "They may have a new agent that works on 95 percent of deer. Now the agent works on 60 to 70 percent of the deer on an average." Paul Curtis, the extension wildlife specialist with Cornell University, has studied fertility control in deer for several years -- using vaccines himself on test herds and following studies by his colleagues. Curits finds GnHR to be "very effective on deer population reduction, reducing pregnancies by 90 percent."
But the technique still requires booster shots every other year. "Contraception vaccine's scale is limited," he said. "GnHR can work in a small scale on a few square miles of herd travel. You can (vaccinate) a couple of hundred deer at a cost of $1,000 a deer. But that will work only in small, isolated parks. The scale is too big in large, suburban areas and large deer populations. " Marr still pushes for contraception over hunting. "Culling as a method is inhumane, cruel and does not give the effect wanted," he said. "For the first few months after the hunt, the number of deer is lower, but hunting only works for a short time." Marr cited numerous cases of controlled hunts where the deer population grew years after the hunts were started. This was due to an increase in available food, which resulted in increased reproduction.
One such case was at Monmouth Battlefield State Park in New Jersey. In 1990, Fish and Game officials "pushed through" an annual deer hunt there, Marr said. By 1998, the number of deer in the park had increased 27 percent from the time the hunt was initiated. "After nine years of killing 600 deer, hunting failed to reduce the deer herd," Marr said of the New Jersey park. But Carol Kandoth, a wildlife biologist with New Jersey Fish and Game, said Friday she did not know where Marr was getting his data. "Monmouth Battlefield State Park has its own deer management zone and they operate in special areas (where human use of the park is not extensive)," Kandoth said. "My records indicate a stable population there based on the hunts."
Contact Susan Tuz at stuz@... or at (203) 731-3352.