USDA ANNOUNCES EPA REGISTRATION OF GONACON™ IMMUNOCONTRACEPTIVE VACCINE FOR WHITE-TAILED DEER
WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2010--The U.S. Department of Agriculture‘s Wildlife Service’s (WS) National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) today announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted regulatory approval for the use of GonaCon™ immunocontraceptive vaccine in female white-tailed deer one year of age and older.
The single-shot, multiyear vaccine stimulates the production of antibodies that bind to the gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) in an animal’s body. GnRH signals the production of sex hormones (e.g., estrogen, progesterone and testosterone). By binding to GnRH, the antibodies reduce GnRH’s ability to stimulate the release of these sex hormones. All sexual activity is decreased, and animals remain in a nonreproductive state as long as a sufficient level of antibody activity is present.
There is no known danger associated to humans or wildlife from eating deer that have been vaccinated with GonaCon. As with other vaccines, such as those used with livestock, both the vaccine and the antibodies produced are proteins. Once ingested, they are broken down by stomach acids and enzymes.
The use of GonaCon alone cannot rapidly reduce overabundant deer populations to healthy levels. Instead, it is a tool that can be used in conjunction with other wildlife management methods, particularly in urban, residential areas and parks where other management methods, such as hunting, are not routinely feasible.
WS-NWRC is the federal institution devoted to resolving problems caused by the interaction of wild animals and society. The center applies scientific expertise to the development of practical methods to resolve these problems and to maintain the quality of the environments shared with wildlife. To learn more about NWRC, visit its Web site at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/nwrc/.
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