Utah Legislature Votes to Limit Birth Control… for Animals

If I didn’t know any better, I’d congratulate Utah republicans for at least being consistent in their ultra-conservative, anti-choice beliefs by spreading it to all species. But alas, that was not the intention of this new law.

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They’ve preemptively passed a law to stop animal rights activists from distributing birth control to deer populations in order to bring their population down below the legal level for hunting to be allowed. While this has never happened before, it’s a common fear that activists will someday destroy hunters’ “way of life.”

>> See Also: Deer Hunting for Conservation? Not So Fast, Study Says

Let’s get this straight: hunters claim to engage in healthy population control, but they want to make sure that new, more humane technology cannot be used to control deer populations — essentially saying that hunting is the only answer.

Under Senate Bill 13, only those authorized by state wildlife department officials can administer birth control to animals. The bill passed 67 to 5 and awaits Governor Jon Huntsman’s signature to make it law.

South Carolina passed a similar law last year. That law was in reaction to a successful study that began in 2004 where deer were tranquilized with contraceptives on Fripp Island under vertnary and scientific supervision. The island had over 400 deer whent he study began, but after injecting the deer, the population is much smaller.

South Carolina politicans said they worried that the contraceptives could somehow transfer to humans and have an impact on human fertility, so they limited the use to certain permitted instances, including on Fripp Island.

While the Utah law does allow for government officials to use animal contraceptives, it’s clear that they do not want to. Hunters are afraid that the science will develop faster than imagined, leaving hunting exposed as the cruel hobby it really is.

Photo Credit: shellorz on Flickr under Creative Commons license


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About the Author

is primarily concerned with animal welfare, wildlife conservation, and environmental justice. As a freelance writer in San Francisco, he leads a deliberately simplistic and thrifty lifestyle, yet still can’t help gawking at the newest green gadgets and zero-emission concept cars.
  • Me

    You’re both right and wrong. I hunt fully for meat, and have spent nothing on hunting (other than the expense to be proficient with a rifle, which has been footed by a friend, and gas). But there are a lot of people who hunt for the rack, people won’t shoot a doe or a small buck. It’s a real thing. In many areas hunting is only a killing thing, but in rural Idaho it kept my family going a couple winters.

    Even as a hunter, I can’t oppose the idea. It’s not going to really impact the deer population outside of urban areas. Deer are a huge threat to drivers, and wiping out the predators plus hunting has pushed them to be extremely nocturnal. They have no predators at night, so they’re moving less and less during the day, neutralizing hunting as a real population control.

    How the hell would it spread to people, even if you were being “friendly” with the deer?

  • Brad P

    Contrary to the previous post, most of the hunters I know do it for fun. Yes, of course they eat the meat – but that’s not what motivates them to spend so much money on their toys, their guns, their clothes, their ammo, their hunting clubs, their weekends, their lifestyle. Deep down inside, they know they do it for fun even when they tell you they do it for meat. Just look at the grin on their face in that photo. I do a lot of fishing. If you believe that I do it primarily “for the fish meat” then I have some other fish stories I’d like to tell you. Same damn thing.

  • David Diez

    All hunters I have known don’t just shoot an animal simply for a trophy. It is primarily for food. Hunting deer offsets the killing of (domesticated) animals for meat, so I’m not sure there are any animal lives saved by the birth-control plan… it is just shifting the number of animals killed from wild deer to domesticated animals. Also, I’d rather have someone eat meat from a wild deer than a domesticated cow. In the numbers deer are hunted, it is actually a sustainable source of meat.