Excerpts from The Columbia Valley Pioneer:
Recently, Invermere local Devin Kazakoff travelled to Montana to find his own solution to what he sees as the valley’s deer culling travesty.
In 2014, Mr. Kazakoff was arrested in Kimberly after he damaged two clover traps during a cull. On April 1st, he was granted discharge. He said the incident taught him he needed to find a more constructive way to combat deer culling.
Mr. Kazakoff attended a three-day workshop in Montana to learn about deer contraceptive vaccines, which are growing in popularity in response to the trend of urban deer across North America. He learned primarily about a vaccine called PZP.
Mr. Kazakoff is now certified to buy, import and administer PZP vaccine.
The Critical Cat interviewed Devin to get more in-depth information about Native PZP and its implementation.
The Critical Cat: Hi, Devin. PZP sounds like an exciting alternative to culls and other immunocontraceptives. Tell us a little more about it.
Devin Kazakoff: Hi, everyone. I’ve never been so excited about something that will benefit deer like this. It’s revolutionary, and if we can push through some political boundaries we can really change the direction of history with our wildlife.
It has taken decades. Native PZP is not a new vaccine, [immunocontraceptive researcher] Jay Kirkpatrick has dedicated his life to it. But he’s a scientist, not a marketing guru. He had tried, but been shut down, mainly in the US where hunting groups are more predominant and have a bigger pull. Canada just may be that place where we can overcome the hunters. It’s up to us to get this into the animals and stop the slaughter.
TCC: What is Native PZP?
DK: Native PZP is the unaltered form of the immunocontraceptive agent PZP. SpayVac uses an an altered form of PZP. The result is a totally different vaccine.
TCC: Opponents of the SpayVac immunocontraceptive claim that the process is as cruel as culling. How does Native PZP differ?
DK: The main difference and the one we need to focus on is no use of traps.
Here are the advantages of Native PZP out of the manual:
1. Efficiency of at least 90%
2. Ability to deliver the contraceptive remotely
3. Reversibility of the agent’s contraceptive action
4. Safety for administration to pregnant does
5. Lack of effects upon social structures and behaviours
6. Lack of long-term debilitating health effects
7. Low cost
8. Inability of the contraceptive agent to pass through the food chain
TCC: What does it mean to deliver the contraceptive remotely?
DK: It’s administered through dart gun. Clover traps and drop nets aren’t necessary. However, if required to trap deer, we could use them and administer with hand injection, but that’s not what we want to see.
The dart is tiny and can be shot from 200ft away if necessary. They aren’t harmful to people or other animals. The vaccine can’t cause harm. All darts are retrieved and can be found with a metal detector if they penetrate the soil.
TCC: How effective is Native PZP?
DK: The efficiency is 85 – 95%. Basically, if done right, we can manipulate a population to whatever we want over time. Which to us sounds scary, but it’s powerful and that’s what the politicians want.
It’s being done as we speak on wild horses in Alberta. Assateague Island is the biggest success of Native PZP on horses. Fire island is the biggest success with deer. The data is irrefutable.
We just have to be louder than the pro-cull community, have science behind us and make it more affordable.
TCC: How much does Native PZP cost?
DK: The cost is $24 US per dose + things like recording data, the dart gun, travel etc. We would rely on volunteers for a lot of the work. We can keep the costs to a minimum
DK: The deer can be tracked using their markings by volunteers in the community.
TCC: How difficult is it for your typical human to learn to identify individual deer?
DK: Learning deer by markings isn’t much different than tagging. With photographs it’s quite effective.
We just need to do the grunt work -Photograph each deer and give them an identification number or name based on the markings. I’ve got an idea to make an iPad/iPhone app to help with this. That way you can search our database (that we will create) to find a given deer based on markings. Every detail will be documented to the fullest extent.
TCC: Are you concerned that the deer are migratory? If so, would Native PZP be of any use?
DK: The majority of female deer don’t move much from their comfort zone with some exceptions where as male deer move about more. Does and fawns stay together in family units. It’s the does that are treated with the vaccine.
TCC: Many people supporting immunocontraceptives, incuding you, live a vegan lifestyle to reduce harm to animals. How do you feel about PZP being derived from pig ovaries?
DK: I am hopeful for the future. A scientist in India is working on a synthetic. They have actually succeeded in a synthetic booster but not primer shot, but it hasn’t been researched enough in deer herds.
TCC: Thank you for your time, Devin. I hope to hear a lot more about you and Native PZP in the future.
DK: Thanks! We want this because it’s the best thing possible for the deer.
Interview Compiled and Edited by: