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Let the deer sexual revolution begin: National Park Service officials are floating the idea of using birth-control drugs to control the white-tailed deer population in Rock Creek Park.
The population problem has gotten so dire, says park superintendent Adrienne Coleman, that deer eating young trees has led to “bare spots” in the park. “When we have one resource that is damaging another resource, we somehow need to bring it into balance,” she said at a recent “public scoping meeting” held at the Rock Creek Nature Center.
Ken Ferebee, an NPS natural resource management specialist, says that contraception is “a preliminary alternative at this point.” If approved, the deer contraception would work much like human birth control?particularly the once-popular Norplant method. A doe would be trapped and sedated, then contraceptive sticks would be placed under the skin. The deer will be unable to conceive until the implant’s effects wear off.
While a “deer pill” could be a less invasive option, Ferebee says, “There’s no oral contraception that can be administered.”
While contraception is one of the more humane options on the table (other options include the use of fencing, poison, and sharpshooters) one animal-rights group is aginst putting Bambi on the pill. Bill Dallinger of Friends of Animals says people are the problem, not deer. “When free from human intervention, the deer population will stabilize,” Dallinger says. “White-tail deer have an interest in existing on their own terms.”