A chemical that’s essentially a contraceptive for deer will be unavailable to the public if a bill that cleared the Iowa House today becomes law. Representative John Whitaker, a Democrat from Hillsboro, says the bill stipulates that in Iowa only the Iowa Department of Natural Resources can administer the hormone — in very limited instances.
"We do not need to have this available to the general public," Whitaker says. "If it were used in human medication, it would be prescription only." The hormone shuts down reproduction in an animal for at least six months and in some cases up to four years. Whitaker says the Department of Natural Resources has no plans to use the drug, however.
"It’s very expensive," Whitaker says. "It is an injectable hormone which means that if they were to use it in wild populations they would have to dart the animals and then they wouldn’t know which animals they had darted. They wouldn’t know if they had done males or females unless they were doing it at a particular time of year so the logistics of doing this are just extremely difficult."
Whitaker says the chemical is so potent it’s crucial to ensure it is kept under wraps. "It is regulated as a pesticide by the USDA," Whitaker says. "We’re stepping in and saying not everybody who has a pesticide license should have access to this particular drug." Whitaker, who is a deer hunter, has heard from other hunters who are concerned about the drug. "I understand that the general public may want this, but this works on other things besides deer," Whitaker says. "It works on any mammal." That means it would work on humans. "It blocks the release of reproductive hormones in both male and female," according to Whitaker.
The bill passed the House on an 82 to 12 vote. Representative Sandy Greiner, a Republican from Keota, was one of those "no" votes. She’s worried the D-N-R will decide to inject the drug in deer — at great cost to the state. "I live in a house full of hunters and I know how difficult it is to find the deer — unless they’re, of course, on the road and then it’s easy to find them — so are we going to now be appropriating money in large sums, hiring more (employees) for the Department of Natural Resources to go out and herd these (deer) into a pen so they can inject them with a birth control substance?" Greiner asks. "I think it’s folly."
Greiner questions why the federal government has classified the hormone as a mere pesticide and argues it should never be used to "control" the state’s deer herd. "I don’t like deer on the road. I don’t like deer when they eat my hostas," Greiner says. "I would shoot ’em myself if I could take the backlash on my shoulder, but this is crazy." The bill now goes to the Iowa Senate for consideration.