This winter was dedicated to writing, as I spent most of my time preparing two manuscripts, now submitted to scientific journals. The first one provided a European perspective on fertility control for wildlife, and in particular on the many reasons why European Member States should consider investing in research in this field. The essence of the paper is that Europe is overcrowded, with “overcrowded” referring to both people and to some wildlife species. Sharing “our” space and resources with deer and wild boar, and with non-native raccoons, squirrels, Canada geese, and parakeets, just mention to a few, is becoming increasingly challenging. We need new tools, besides traditional ones, if we wish to find a way of coexisting with wildlife. Fertility control could provide one of these tools, particularly if we invest in developing oral contraceptives.
The second paper, co-authored with two colleagues and focused on fertility control for rodents, was an invited contribution by the organizers of the 7th International Conference on Rodent Biology and Management held in Tanzania in early July 2022. We propose a framework to guide researchers and stakeholders planning to use fertility control to mitigate the economic or environmental impacts of rodents. Our guidelines describe the questions that should be asked and the steps to be taken when considering contraceptives for broad-scale rodent management.
As I was reading the literature on human-wildlife conflicts, I realized the extent of the global impact of some local wildlife management choices. A good example is the widespread use of anticoagulant rodenticides, which creates ongoing global conservation concerns for raptors feeding on rodents. In countries that are on migratory bird routes, the impact of local use of anticoagulant rodenticides may extend well beyond the regions that apply these substances, which makes developing safe and effective oral contraceptives even more important.
While publishing in scientific journals lends authority to a manuscript, not least because the peer review process ensures that anonymous reviewers have approved the final version, the readership of scientific papers is always limited to a relative small circle of researchers and scientists. This is why it is crucial we integrate writing scientific papers with webinars, interviews, workshops and talks at national and international conferences.
For this reason, we are delighted to have been invited to run a workshop on Challenges for Fertility Control in the Wild at the Zoo and Wildlife Health Conference that will be hosted in Spain in spring 2023. I have also been invited to give a keynote address at that XIII European Vertebrate Pest Management Conference in Florence, in summer 2023. The conference in Florence will also have a whole session of 5-6 talks dedicated to wildlife fertility control, so we have a lot on our “European plate.”
I look forward to sharing the highlights from these events.
Dr. Giovanna Massei