top of page

Frequently Asked Questions

Below, you'll find the top ten frequently asked questions regarding our work on introducing PZP and a deer fertility management plan here in Tega Cay. 

Please explain the difference between GonaCon & PZP and was TCWCS advocating for both?

GonaCon was never something we were promoting. That's the government version of "PZP" with a different chemical makeup (hormones versus protein) PZP-ZONASTAT-D was the preferred method of fertility control the TCWCS was vetting to city leaders due to cost, success rate, and approval from Dr. Ruth at SCDNR for use on our deer. In all of our research and conversations with Dr. Rutberg, who has a 30 year history of utilizing PZP, - the science was there for PZP showing herd reduction success rates on Fripp Island, Hastings-on-Hudson, Fire Island and Oak Bay, Canada, not to mention success rates on wild horses.  For more detailed information on PZP please click here.

At the recent council meeting, the Mayor said PZP is no longer an option and will not be used in TC, so what now?

Initially, PZP-ZONASTAT-D was considered as an option. However, the city shifted its approach from supporting an in-house dart team comprised of city staff and volunteers to seeking external contractors. Unfortunately, no contractors were found who were willing and available for darting, rendering this option unfeasible. We have met with several council members, and PZP is still being considered, albeit in a modified form involving tagging and potentially as part of a hybrid program. The city is currently processing a substantial amount of information pertaining to next steps for a deer management program. We hope they refrain from making any rushed decisions. It is crucial that they take the time to thoroughly review all available information and resources provided to them before reaching a conclusion.

Why did TCWCS change the darting to “mass-darting without ear-tagging”. Which was not an acceptable protocol?

TCWCS did not alter any protocols. All PZP projects conducted over the last 30 years have been research-based, necessitating the use of tagging. Implementing a tagging-free darting program into policy would have been a pioneering step. It would have meant transitioning a scientifically supported research project from the laboratory to practical use in the field. Initially, our leaders were enthusiastic about this prospect. However, as the complexities mounted, they eventually opted for culling which had already been approved by the SCDNR.

Many residents felt the poor results of the culling program were due to safety restrictions, but that only confirms that mass-darting would have its own restrictions and therefore also be “doomed to fail”.  So why should we vote to dart?

Comparing mass darting directly to sharpshooting is unreasonable. Firstly, darting allows for closer proximity to the target, increasing the likelihood of hitting the mark. Unlike sharpshooting, darting can be conducted during daylight hours.  Darting can be conducted in a greater number of locations across the city, including private property with permission from the homeowner. In contrast, sharpshooting is severely restricted due to safety concerns and can only be carried out from a significant elevation, maintaining a certain distance from homes, and other structures. Additionally, darting does not require extra ground personnel (police prescence)  that might startle or drive away deer. 

In your previous messaging it was stated that PZP will only cost $100 a deer and therefore be extremely cost-effective. Yet, updated information from Dr. DeNicola has PZP listed at over $1,000 per deer. Please explain the discrepancy?

Native PZP costs $25 per dose, manufactured by a non-profit organization Science and Conservation Center, sold at 60% less than the production cost). At Fripp Island, Dr. Rutberg and researchers estimated that darting alone cost $100 per deer, and when including capture and vaccination, the cost rose to $500 per deer. The city's insistence on ear-tagging means following Dr. DeNicola's method, which involves capture, ear-tagging, vaccination (primer), and a dart-delivered booster. Furthermore, Dr. DeNicola's method incurs higher costs due to his status as the industry's leading expert in deer fertility.

When using Fertility control, why are the Females targeted and not the Males?

Population dynamics are all about the females!  If you manage to sterilize one buck, another will come to take its place.  Unlike the more sedentary female deer (does),  bucks travel broadly and they are polygamous; i.e. they will mate as often and with as many females as they can.  Therefore, you need to treat 100% of the bucks (usually impossible) in order to stop reproduction. This is why sterilizing males DOES WORK on captive populations (like ranches), but DOES NOT WORK on wild populations with free roaming animals. 

 If the city approves a deer fertility plan moving forward, who will manage it?  The city, or outside company?

An external company, possibly White Buffalo, is being considered. The city has indicated that implementing a fertility plan is currently too complex for the staff to manage. This was one of the factors contributing to the rejection of the Native PZP plan at the December council meeting. This decision prompted TCWCS to approach Dr. DeNicola to inquire about his availability and willingness to help us establish a deer fertility program, rather than resorting to annual culls. 

People are constantly getting confused about Native PZP and PZP-22 – Please Explain?

Native PZP (also referred to as ZONASTAT-D)  is approved by the EPA at the Federal level and by Clemson University at the SC State level, and the SCDNR is willing to write a permit for it.  It requires a primer and booster dose the first year, followed by annual boosters to maintain a 80-90% infertility rate.

PZP-22  requires only 1 initial dose and requires boosters approximately every 22 months to maintain a 80-90% infertility rate.  However, it is not yet approved by the EPA and therefore is ONLY available to an approved research site.  

Why can other sites successfully dart 80% of females (or in the case of Fire  Isalnd w/o tagging) YET it seems so outlandish that we could get to 80% females darted here in Tega Cay?

Because other sites are dealing with a small fraction of the size of our population (100-200 total, vs. 1000+ in Tega Cay).

If the city approves a darting program, when would be the best time of the year to start darting? Are darts dangerous to humans if found on the ground.

Early spring, typically March to April, is the optimal time for darting because it precedes the Rut season, which starts in early October. Each darter will be accompanied by a spotter to retrieve darts from the ground after use. However, if a dart is found, it's important to note that they are barbless and pose no harm to humans; finding one is akin to encountering a nail on the ground.

bottom of page