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Keywords:

  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone;
  • immunocontraception;
  • porcine zona pellucida;
  • wildlife

Citation Kirkpatrick JF, Lyda RO, Frank KM. Contraceptive vaccines for wildlife: a review. Am J Reprod Immunol 2011; 66: 40–50

Wildlife, free-ranging and captive, poses and causes serious population problems not unlike those encountered with human overpopulation. Traditional lethal control programs, however, are not always legal, wise, safe, or publicly acceptable; thus, alternative approaches are necessary. Immunocontraception of free-ranging wildlife has reached the management level, with success across a large variety of species. Thus far, the immunocontraceptive research and management applications emphasis have been centered on porcine zona pellucida and gonadotropin-releasing hormone vaccines. Contraceptive success has been achieved in more than 85 different wildlife species, at the level of both the individual animal and the population. At the population management level with free-ranging species, the primary focus has been on wild horses, urban deer, bison, and African elephants. The challenges in the development and application of vaccine-based wildlife contraceptives are diverse and include differences in efficacy across species, safety of vaccines during pregnancy, the development of novel delivery systems for wild and wary free-ranging animals, and the constraints of certain non-contraceptive effects, such as effects on behavior. Beyond the constraints imposed by the public and a host of regulatory concerns, there exists a real limitation for funding of well-designed programs that apply this type of fertility control.