Birth control pills for animals


Daily pills mixed with feed could be a solution to curbing wild pig and deer overpopulation.

A birth control pill for wild animals could eventually make its way to cats and dogs.

Researchers at Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences are working on a birth control pill for animals like feral pigs and cougars. One of the pill's creators, Dr. Duane Kraemer, says a version for wild dogs and feral cats could be possible.

"A spinoff of this contraceptive could probably be used on many different species," Dr. Kraemer says. That's a long-term view, however, as dogs especially present complications. The pill-a phosphodiestase 3 inhibitor-works by stopping maturation of the egg and animals must eat it daily during the critical time in that animal's cycle. Dogs have a more complicated ovulation process.

For now, the researchers are focusing on Texas' feral hog and cougar problem, with deer and coyote populations in the future. More funding is needed to study the pill's effects on people, too, because wild pigs and deer that would be ingesting the birth control pills are often hunted and eaten.

"It's an exciting and much-needed project," Dr. Kraemer says. "One of the more interesting challenges will be to develop methods for feeding it to the target animals without affecting other species."

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