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Australians develop "the pill" to control the kangaroo population

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Kangaroo Pill to thin numbers

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- Scientists are hoping to develop an oral contraceptive for female kangaroos that will keep pouches empty as they hop around the national capital's grassy fringes.

Government ecologist Don Fletcher said Wednesday the oral contraceptive method promised to be more efficient than existing technology for curbing roo numbers around Canberra such as vasectomies for males and injections for females because the fleet-footed marsupials would not need to be captured.

"Realistically, to deal with wild animals it has to be oral," said Fletcher, who is collaborating with Newcastle University scientists on the research.

"One of the challenges is finding kangaroo ice-cream," he said, referring to a food pellet that grass-munching roos will find irresistible.

Field tests of the contraceptive could be under way in two-to-five years, he said.

Kangaroos are an ever-present road hazard in Canberra, particularly in dry months when thousands bounce in from the surrounding countryside to feed on watered lawns and golf courses.

The Australian Capital Territory government, which administers Canberra and is funding the research, is reluctant to use shooters to thin the kangaroo population because of the risk posed to humans in built-up areas and the cruelty objections raised by animal welfare groups.

ACT Animal Liberation, a local animal rights group that has been a vocal opponent of kangaroo culls, has applauded the new research.


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