Practical application of fertility control technology in free-ranging wild ungulates often requires remote delivery of the contraceptive agent. The objective of this investigation was to evaluate the potential of remote delivery of leuprolide acetate for suppressing fertility in female elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni). Fifteen captive adult female elk were randomly allocated to one of three experimental groups. Six elk were injected intramuscularly with a dart containing leuprolide, and the remaining nine elk received the same formulation without leuprolide. We determined pregnancy rates, suppression of luteinizing hormone (LH) and progesterone concentrations, and reversibility of treatments during 1 August 2002 to 3 September 2003. Leuprolide formulation caused a decrease in concentrations of LH and progesterone, temporary suppression of ovulation and steroidogenesis, and effective contraception (100%) for one breeding season. These results extend the practical application of this contraceptive agent to include dart delivery, where in the absence of such technology, wild elk must first be captured and restrained before treatment.
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Vol. 41 • No. 4