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May 16, 2011

Late-breaking news...really late breaking

So every media outlet from here to Conneticut got its underwear in a knot over the weekend about the supposed news that Maryland just became the first state to embrace the deer contraceptive GonaCon.

Except it didn't just happen. For the record the pesticide was approved for use on deer by the Environmental Protection Agency last year. The Department of Natural Resources adopted its policy on GonaCon after it was reviewed by the Wildlife Advisory Commission at its March meeting. 

The policy contained nothing new. Anti-hunting organizations and animal rights groups barely blinked an eye.

In fact, the limitations on its use are so daunting, the expertise required to administer it so limited and the expense so high that it is unlikely GonaCon will ever be used by Maryland's biologists. Hunters need not worry about GonaCon making them obsolete. 

The Sun mentioned the approval on May 8, as part of a column on hunting in Baltimore County parks. Then, the media munchkins with nothing else on their plate got busy and the folks who will dump on government for any reason found a new dumpee. 

For the record, Maryland never said it was going to use GonaCon. NEVER. It merely set strict standards for its use, which is a responsible thing to do. I mean, you don't want the guy in the stained T-shirt at the end of the block running around accidently shooting neighborhood pets do you?

In fact, state wildlife managers have made it clear that they have no intention of injecting deer at a cost to taxpayers of up to $1,000 per animal as a means to control the population. So all you knee-jerk Tea Party types who didn't read the fine print in any of the stories, put your tri-cornered hats away for the moment.  

Where could GonaCon be used? Fenced-in land, islands or peninsulas--places where you have an insular doe population and can't rely on hunting. That rules out most state-owned land.

The pesticide is 80 percent effective the first year, but drops off to 50 percent the second year. Licensed experts would have to locate the deer for a booster shot on a regular basis. That counts out DNR, which is a little low in the manpower department.

So what really happened? Maryland wildlife managers set standards two months ago for a substance that might be used by private landowners willing to shell out big money to make their deer go away.

Where's the news in that?    

Posted by Candus Thomson at 1:50 PM | | Comments (2)


Thanks Candus for clarifying this news. Thought it seemed a little far fetched! Have they looked at the long term affect of GonaCon on the possible 20% offspring? And what about if the offspring is male? Buck dispersal could spread the affects of this drug far outside the intended area. I saw that the meat should not be consumed, what about it being passed onto young that are not tagged?

knee-jerk Tea Party types ??? Really Candus I thought this was supposed to be a blog about the outdoors.

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About Candus Thomson
In a world of paper vs. plastic and candy mint vs. breath mint, my early memories involved a debate about the merits of freshwater vs. saltwater.

On the one hand, a great uncle’s fishing cabin on the Susquehanna River beckoned, but so did family gatherings on the Jersey Shore.

The correct answer, thankfully, was, “both.”

As The Sun’s outdoors writer for more than a decade, I’ve fished across Maryland in one day, hiked the width of the state in one hour, camped overnight in the median of I-95 to experience the wildlife between the fast lanes and chased mountain bikers in a 24-hour marathon race.

Those are some of the highlights. I’ve also fallen in a raging Gunpowder River during a trout survey (photo available upon request), had a shark spill its guts on my clothes and been stuck in a sub-freezing Vermont wilderness with men armed with flintlocks and hatchets, shuffling along on ancient wooden snowshoes.

And, in my travels I’ve met lots of you, who share a love of the outdoors and the good times and mishaps that go along with it.

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