A&M Developing Wild Animal Birth Control

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A new project at Texas A&M may bring some welcomed relief for property owners plagued by wild animals.

Researchers at Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences are developing an oral contraceptive to slow down the reproductive rate of nuisance animals like coyotes and wild pigs.

The concept is to administer the birth control through baited food. Researchers are testing the drugs - used in much the same way as in humans - and the results are promising, said Duane Kraemer, Texas A&M Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology professor.

Kraemer, one of the pill's creators, and other members of the research team are testing the contraceptive for use on wild animals, but the applications could most likely be used in pets, he believes.

"No one method will be useful in all situations," Kraemer stressed. "This approach inhibits maturation of the egg and therefore prevents fertilization. The animals continue to cycle, so it will not yet be ideal for many pet owners. But there is an advantage for use in wild and feral animals."

Kraemer said the research team has recently started tests on domestic models for predators - animals such as feral pigs and cougars - but if successful, it could be used on a wide variety of animals, including dogs and cats.

In Texas, feral hogs have become a severe nuisance to farmers and ranchers, and the state has an estimated 3-4 million feral hogs, by far the most in the country. Deer are also becoming a problem to more communities each year because of overpopulation of deer herds. Other species such as coyotes and even wild horses also need sufficient management control, experts note.