A recent letter in the News-Herald from an Eastlake resident suggested an immuno-contraceptive containing PZP would solve the problem of Mentor’s deer population.
Before I respond to the content of the letter, I want to respond to a number of Mentor residents who object to having someone from another community comment on a problem in Mentor.
The natural world and its critters don’t recognize geographical boundaries. No community is an island. What happens in one city does impact surrounding cities.
I ask only that outsiders fully acquaint themselves with the body of facts and statistics our Council and City Administrators have accumulated regarding the impact of deer on our city.
And that after understanding the situation, the outsiders, as well as Mentor residents, back up their statements with documented facts, figures and good science.
If they do not, how can they expect us to take them seriously?
Back to the letter.
It went on to say that an impartial expert, Dr. Rutberg, who, with a colleague, developed PZP, could support the letter’s assertions through his scientific research.
First, I’ll point out that sterilization of deer has been illegal in Ohio for almost 20 years, so discussions about sterilization or contraception are moot. Even if it were legal, infertile deer still crash into cars and destroy landscapes and natural area habitat.
Second, Rutberg’s PZP works well on deer in confined areas, such as on an island, in a zoo, or in a fenced-in military installation. As of today, there is no contraceptive program that works well to reduce the size of a free-range herd in a timely or cost-effective manner. It may exist, but I found no reference from Rutberg himself in which he advocated using the PZP on free-range deer herds.
The letter from Eastlake states that the pro-kill-deer experts presenting their case to Mentor City Council are always those who profit considerably from killing wildlife and lie about humane, non-lethal solutions.
My third point is that none of the experts presenting information before council have profited directly or indirectly from their position on the question. They backed up their recommendations with facts and good science.
I did some research about Dr. Allen Rutberg, including his curriculum vitae. I think he’s a good scientist, a good researcher in search of humane solutions for wildlife populations. His PZP works well in certain cases.
But I wouldn’t call him impartial or independent. And I don’t think Rutberg would use those words to describe himself, either.
So the fourth point I want to make is this: It’s possible pro-kill-deer experts might profit from controlling the deer population. It’s also possible pro-contraception experts might profit considerably from promoting their own solutions.
Dr Rutberg has.
Here’s what I found online in his curriculum vitae, facts and figures which Rutberg himself published:
Over the last 30 years of his research, 80% of the grants to fund his work, almost $300,000, came from the Humane Society.
Since 2000, Rutberg has worked for the Humane Society as Chief Research Scientist.
Several years ago, the Humane Society formed an online school called the Humane Society University. Rutberg teaches Wildlife Policy in the Department of Animal Policy & Advocacy at the university.
By the way–the Humane Society University is licensed but has no accreditation whatsoever.
I respect both the Humane Society and Dr. Rutberg’s research. Unlike the contraceptives tried in decades past, Rutberg’s PZP doesn’t render the deer meat toxic to human consumption.
Nothing would make me happier than to see him develop an immuno-contraceptive that would work in an affordable and timely manner on free-range herds.
But until that day, I believe Mentor Council and Administration are on the right path.