New drug dart for deer

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2001:

LONDON–Harmlessly tranquilizing or innoculating animals from many times the range of previous syringe guns, the new-design high-speed Ecodart will at last make practicable the administration of contraceptive drugs to deer, says inventor and deer management consultant Richard Price.

Conventional syringe darts land with such penetration force that they cannot be safely fired at a speed of more than 80 yards per second, Price recently told Daily Telegraph science correspondent David Derbyshire. That limits the delivery range to under 30 yards, with no crosswind–closer than deer can usually be approached.

The Ecodart flies at more than 1,500 feet per second. Made from carbon-bonded glass, the nose cone shatters on impact, releasing a gas bag which inflates to the size of a grapefruit, preventing deep penetration while propelling the drug dose into the animal.

Price unveiled the Ecodart two weeks before Humane Society of the U.S. researcher Alan Rutberg and Morris County, New Jersey, cancelled a three-year-old deer contraception study at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum. They had managed to dart only 14 deer in 1997. Just two were later relocated for examination.

A similar study underway at Irondequoit Park in Syracuse darted 65 deer, 1997-1999, but doing the job took researcher
William F. Porter and team 3,000 hours.

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