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Scientists Trying Birth Control on Deer

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The deer population has greatly increased in North Carolina.
RALEIGH — North Carolina drivers are headed for a recordyear of crashes involving deer. At the same time, scientists are trying toslow the exploding deer population, and they say a breakthrough could bejust around the corner.

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

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

With a growing number of cars and more deer on area roads, therelationship 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 cardamage this year.

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

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

Scientists in Maryland are currently testing a new birth controlvaccine for deer. It's called PZP, and it's time released. A month afterthe first injection, a second dose is released. The immune response in thedoe'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, andthere'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 thereal sticking point for the time being.

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

Editor's Note:

  • Be Alert, particularly at night and in the early morning when deer aremost active.
  • Don't swerve suddenly to avoid hitting a deer. You'll only put yourown 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 tobe moving away from the road. It could always change directions suddenlyand dart into the road.
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