Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Human–Wildlife Conflicts Volume 2, Number 1, Pages 93–101, Spring 2008. Published and copyright by the Jack H. Berryman Institute. http://www.berrymaninstitute.org/journal/index.html


Immunocontraceptive vaccines based on gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) have been tested in adult white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), but their effects on fawns are unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine if early immunization against GnRH would induce a long-lasting immune response in fawns, and if it would delay or prevent sexual development. We gave primary and subsequent booster injections of a KLH-GnRH/Freund’s vaccine to 6 male and 6 female fawns. This vaccine contained the same active ingredients as GonaCon™ vaccine, but it contained Freund’s adjuvant instead of AdjuVac™ adjuvant. Two 450-μg injections were given 1 month apart when fawns were 3 and 4 months of age. Although 1 female fawn produced a multiyear contraceptive response similar to that observed previously in vaccinated adults, the immune response lasted only 1 year in the other 11 fawns. Antibody titers in those 11 fawns declined sharply to near zero during the second and third years after vaccination. Our results indicate that treating 3- to 4-month-old white-tailed deer with the GnRH vaccine did not induce contraception or sterilization, and it did not delay or prevent sexual development. No adverse health effects were apparent in GnRH-treated fawns.