Sunday, March 18, 2001

Park's deer to get shot - with birth control

The Associated Press

        CUYAHOGA HEIGHTS — Metropolitan park officials are going to try needles instead of bullets to control the growing deer population, a method suggested by people who oppose the annual shooting of hundreds of deer in the parks.

        Officials will test their plan by injecting deer captured at Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation with a birth control drug and then releasing them.

        Cleveland Metroparks spokeswoman M. Jane Christyson said park officials have been looking for an opportunity to test a fertility control agent.

        Metroparks officials said the drug is relatively new and will be effective for as long as two years. A previous version of the drug lasted about three months.

        Sandy Rowland, director of the Great Lakes Region of the Humane Society of the United States, said she was delighted with the decision.

        “We are thrilled that the Metroparks is finally doing humane deer population control,” she said. “But they are only now doing what this agency and other groups have been suggesting for years.”

        Dan Petit, director of research for the Metroparks, said officials previously did not think infertility drugs could control the deer population in the parks. He said 1,172 deer have been shot and killed by Metroparks employees since 1998.

        “It was a process of learning what was available out there,” he said. “It's true that the drug we will use is 10 years old, but the formulation that causes it to last for up to two years is experimental. We will be the second place in the country to use it.”

        Mr. Petit said that even if the drug works, it will take five to 10 years to put it into widespread use and eliminate the need for shooting the deer.


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