U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Published in Animal Reproduction Science 117 (2010) 261–265.


Overabundant white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) pose risks to property, health, and safety of human beings. Public concerns about lethal management can impair efforts to address these issues, particularly in urban settings. Several techniques developed for reducing reproductive output of deer have limited utility because they require repeated dosing to achieve permanent effect and face uncertain regulatory approval for use beyond experimentation. From 10 August 2006 through 30 December 2007, we evaluated the contraceptive efficacy of copper-containing intrauterine devices (IUDs) implanted trans-cervically in white-tailed deer at the E.S. George Reserve in Pinckney, Michigan. Intrauterine devices were implanted before (n = 9) and shortly after (n = 10) the breeding season. Post-breeding season IUD treatment was in conjunction with a 5 cm3 dose of 5 mg/ml prostaglandin F (PGF), delivered subcutaneously. Intrauterine devices reduced pregnancy rates when administered prior to breeding (P < 0.001) and prevented pregnancy for up to 2 years (the duration of the study). Two of 8 does that received IUDs prior to the breeding season and survived to the end of the study became pregnant (due to loss of the implant) during the second year while all (n = 16) does without implants conceived. Cervical changes associated with early pregnancy made trans-cervical implantation after the breeding season challenging, and resulted in improperly placed IUDs in 2 treated does. The apparent expulsion of IUDs by pregnant does that received the combined treatment after breeding suggests IUD treatment should be limited to the pre-breeding season. Intrauterine devices show potential as a tool for small-scale deer population management via non-steroidal reproductive inhibition.