BIRTH CONTROL FOR CRITTERS
September 8, 2004
As land becomes more developed, wildlife populations are mingling with people and infrastructure, says the New York Times.
- Florida's monk parakeets, which are believed to number at up to half a million, are nesting on the infrastructures of power grids, which creates power outages, fires and dangers to electrical workers.
- Coyotes now account for an estimated 65 percent of livestock losses.
- Canadian geese now number at about 3.5 million in the United States; their numbers have increased an average of 14 percent per year along the Atlantic coast.
However, killing critters through hunting or humane methods (such as gassing Canadian geese) has drawn shrill protests, so researchers are developing alternatives to simply prevent animals from multiplying. Among them:
- The human cholesterol-lowering drug diazacon has been found to prevent birds from reproducing by reducing the cholesterol necessary for producing birds' reproductive hormones.
- Nicarbazin is being tested on Canadian geese; it prevents egg hatching by affecting yolk membranes.
- A vaccine known as PZP has been effective in horses by preventing sperm from fertilizing an egg.
The techniques are not without challenges, however. Researchers are still working on trying to determine the proper doses to administer, and the vaccine PZP requires two shots, meaning that animals must be captured twice.
Source: James Gorman, "Putting Nature on the Pill," New York Times, August 31, 2004.
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