Kangaroo contraceptives

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2006:
CANBERRA–The Australian Capital Territory government and
Newcastle University on August 23, 2006 announced plans to jointly
develop a species-specific oral contraceptive for eastern grey
kangaroos.
The contraceptive should be ready for field trials in two to
five years, senior Environment ACT ecologist Don Fletcher told news
media.
“In the coming weeks a research population will be set up in
the empty former kangaroo display area at Tidbinbilla,” said
municipal services John Hargreaves, referring to the scene of
“rocket science” of a very different sort. The Tidbinbilla Nature
Reserve, on the fringe of Namadgi National Park, is best known for
housing the radio telescopes operated by the Canberra Deep Space
Communication Complex, part of NASA’s Deep Space Network.


“It is hoped that eventually the kangaroos will be
administered with the fertility control agent through their food,”
Hargreaves said.
“Realistically, to deal with wild animals, it has to be
oral,” Fletcher explained, noting special problems involved in
distributing an oral contraceptive that will be exposed to
ultraviolet radiation from intense sunlight and in coping with
kangaroos’ strong stomach acids.
“The ACT government, which administers Canberra and is
funding the research, is reluctant to use shooters to thin the
kangaroo population because of the risk posed to humans in built-up
areas and the cruelty objections raised by animal welfare groups,”
said Associated Press.
Simone Gray of ACT Animal Liberation praised the initiative.
“Australia is the largest wildlife killer in the world.
We’re killing more wildlife than anyone,” Gray said. “Fertility
control is a sensible alternative for stopping the slaughter.”
The ACT/Newcastle University project contrasts with the
effort of a scientific team in Victoria to develop a
specific-specific poison to kill feral cats.
“We’re at the forefront of coming up with the first technique
to control feral cats over broad areas,” researcher Michael Johnston
told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in August 2005.
“Currently we’re limited to using techniques such as shooting or
trapping.”

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