Local News

Scientists Trying Birth Control on Deer

Posted November 19, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— North Carolina drivers are headed for a record year of crashes involving deer. At the same time, scientists are trying to slow the exploding deer population, and they say a breakthrough could be just around the corner.

Highway safety experts say deer are involved in one out of every 18 traffic accidents in this state and the numbers are worst in November and December.

State Wildlife leaders are trying to deal with a growing problem, and now some new alternatives may be on the way.

With a growing number of cars and more deer on area roads, the relationship between them can often turn deadly, and no one knows that better than body shop workers. Ken Cameron says he is seeing a lot of car damage this year.

Cameron says he fixed 9 cars with deer collision damage in two days this week.

Scott Osborne works with the state Division of Wildlife Management. He says the deer population in this state presents a challenge, but not a problem.

Scientists in Maryland are currently testing a new birth control vaccine for deer. It's called PZP, and it's time released. A month after the first injection, a second dose is released. The immune response in the doe's body creates a protective coating of antibodies around her eggs, preventing fertilization. It's best science has to offer so far.

Osborne says deer birth control isn't feasible on a large scale today. He says it would be too hard to inject large numbers deer effectively, and there's the problem of cost.

Currently, the birth control vaccine only lasts one year, but scientists hope to improve it to be effective for three. If that happens, Osborne says it may be more feasible, but the cost effectiveness is the real sticking point for the time being.

There's no way of completely preventing a collision with a deer, but wildlife experts say there are several precautions one should take.

Editor's Note:

  • Be Alert, particularly at night and in the early morning when deer are most active.
  • Don't swerve suddenly to avoid hitting a deer. You'll only put your own life at risk. It's safer to hit the deer if you can't slow down.
  • Always reduce speed when passing a deer, even if the animal appears to be moving away from the road. It could always change directions suddenly and dart into the road.