CUMBERLAND, Md. (AP) — Maryland has become the first state to approve the use of Gonacon, a deer birth control product, but the state’s director of wildlife said Friday he can’t imagine it ever being used in what he termed the open landscape.

“This is the only immuno-contraceptive for deer that has federal approval,” said Paul Peditto, director of the Wildlife and Heritage Service. “It was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We feel good about being the first jurisdiction to approve its use,” Peditto said. “It shows we have an open mind, but is not a magic bullet for deer control. It is an option in very limited circumstances and will have virtually no consequence in terms of day-to-day deer management and deer hunting. It won’t be used in 98 percent of the state.”

Peditto said the manpower and expense of applying the birth control chemical will limit its use.

“It will cost up to $1,000 to apply it to a deer,” Peditto said.

The deer must first be shot via dart gun to tranquilize it before Gonacon can be injected. EPA requires that the deer be tagged so that it can be identified as having been treated. Another tag will state that the meat of the animal should not be consumed by humans.

“It works on 80 percent of the deer that are injected,” Peditto said. “The following year, however, half of those injected deer will become pregnant unless hand-injected a second time.”

Peditto said authority to sedate, inject and tag deer won’t simply be turned over to a home owners association and its maintenance crew.

Applicators must jump through several hoops, including registration, testing and association with a licensed veterinarian.

Stephanie Boyles, a wildlife scientist with the Humane Society of the United States, said Friday that HSUS applauds Maryland for approving the use of Gonacon. She said the society has been a strong supporter and developer of contraceptive agents as a means of nonlethal wildlife management.

“There is a demand for nonlethal options and now that Maryland has stepped forward we believe the DNR will start hearing from those who want to use that option,” Boyles said.

Boyles said she anticipates advances in the chemical makeup and delivery systems that will lessen the manpower and cost now involved in applying Gonacon.

“Our vision is to be able to remotely dart the animal with the drug and tag. That way you don’t have to capture it. There are always some animals that don’t survive the trauma of the capture and processing, and we would like to eliminate that.”

Boyles expects, too, the development of a drug that will last more than one year. She said time-released injections are currently being studied.

Information from: Cumberland (Md.) Times-News,

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (20)
  1. Doug says:

    Good,now how about forced castration for the welfare system sappers ?
    You could throw condoms at them,but they’d only use them as party balloons

  2. Brian says:

    This is the most idiotic thing i have ever heard, instead of that how about letting hunters go out on sunday. That would have a bigger and more cost effective impact on the deer population. If only our government would get it’s head out of some deep dark places.

  3. DLK says:

    Unbelievable. It is becoming embarrassing to admit you are from Maryland. Maybe they will raise our taxes to pay for this as well. They cannot afford the DNR officer coverage that they need to enforce wildlife laws but they approve this…

    1. J Teves says:

      You took the words right out of my mouth – practically embarrassed to say I’m from Maryland…idiots!!!

  4. Yough 61 says:

    who is paying for the $1000.00 per deer. Could that money be put to better use elsewhere? Maybe conserving habitat or improving wetlads or water quality?

  5. norelief says:

    $1000 PER DEER??????
    For all of those stupid sentimentalists who can’t “shoot poor Bambi” and donate the meat to a food pantry, I suggest PAY THE MONEY YOURSELF!!!!!! Don’t make taxpayers foot a grand for each deer so you can feel good about yourself. Do you know how many shotgun shells you can buy for one grand?
    Free range venison is organic, natural, humane, and also delicious.

    1. IMJB63 says:

      I agree with you…Open the deer season up longer and donate the meat to the damn hungry people, they could care less if its deer meat or steak..This state has become a joke and is one of the reasons Im leaving it..

    2. Wiseguy says:

      I say “Killem’ N Grillem”

  6. JackDaniels says:


  7. DareToBeClever says:

    Finally, Maryland showing that it is ahead of the curve on something important rather than pandering the the less than 2% of the constituents who hunt. Since we are talking about using it only in areas where people can’t run around with guns, as in communities where homeowners associations will be part of the decisions, this is safer for people living in the areas by eliminating the problem of deer running in the roads while coming up with a humane alternative to hunting, which is not even viable in areas where there are homes and schools. Think, people, and kudos to our state!

  8. citizenconcerned says:

    Seems most people commenting understand.
    Yes, we get that they can use it in densely populated areas…but guess what…it doesn’t matter where the deer are – they will still get hit by cars.

    This method is extremely expensive and really not beneficial to us at all.
    I have seen herds of 25+ deer grazing in my back field. You figure maybe a few young bucks and2-4 adult bucks. So let’s say you have to “treat” 15 deer minimum. That is 15,000. Plus. Once you shoot one of the deer with a tranq…they scatter. How the heck are you supposed to get to the rest without spending weeks “hunting” these deer. Then, no one can eat the meat once it has been treated.

    The dispensing method seems ridiculous, expensive, and highly time consuming.

    Let DNR hunt the deer instead of shooting them with birth control. Let the DNR sell the meat (not that it is widely sought after) or donate it to food pantries. Extend the hunting season and make it easier for people who want to donate the meat. Most hunters aren’t going after the does they are going after the big bucks. It takes one buck to populate many does. So for population control, we need more people shooting does and some sort of systems the not so much rewards them but makes them easier to at least process them. We need the help of the hunters to make this happen.Perhaps only having a “Doe only season” and then your normal deer season.

    Let the citizens deal with the problem by setting up a systems that encourages population control, not using our taxes dollars in an asinine way to give our deer birth control which isn’t proven to work or be cost effective.

    Our real concern, as mentioned above, is human population control. Especially those on the government’s tit Let’s spend time on tranqing and injecting birth control on those who are a burden on society. Start with the inner city’s middle and high schools.We can at least spend that money on them and teaching them the getting pregnant is not a way to get a man’s love….I digress.

    1. overtaxed says:

      citizenconcerned, those people youspeak of don’t get pregnant to win a mans love, it is to make the welfare check fatter.

  9. sheriff willie says:

    Gonna make the Deer wear rubbers.

  10. Michael D Lauri says:

    Hey Maybe next we can focus on the welfare mothers that are shooting out five a Year. Good job Baltimore way to spend money wisely and cost the the tax payers.Leave nature alone they were here before us ……..

  11. Questionable Jenn says:

    I can think of 1000 street corners in BALTIMORE for dnr to stand at and give the DEAR welfare resips, a pack of birth control. THIS IS UNCALLED FOR. MY NEXT DID anyone do a study to see what the affects would be if someone killed the deer that has the birth control injected and ate it without knowing.MEN are prob gonna end up with a 3rd,4th heck 5th testicle,FEMALES LOOK OUT lord knows what could happen to us!

  12. tylerjake says:

    So basically they just approved something that won’t even be used?! WOW, how much money and time was wasted with this?!

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