These days, mentioning birth control and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in the same sentence will likely draw some strong reactions. But a recent contractor inquiry by HHS for its National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus in Bethesda, Maryland adds a new wrinkle. This time, the focus is on deer.

The NIH site in Maryland is a 500-acre research facility, fully enclosed with a nine-foot perimeter fence and access gates. Lately, the campus has been, relatively speaking, overrun with deer; in this case, overrun means an estimated population of thirty to forty. A YouTube video taken earlier this year on the campus near the access gates illustrates the dilemma in which NIH finds itself:

As the video shows and the documents say, “[t]he campus is densely developed with few remaining open spaces suitable as deer habitat. The property is surrounded by high density residential and commercial development.” After mentioning that hunting has never been permitted on campus, the HHS document deadpans that “there are no non-human predators present that are capable of limiting a deer population,” a fact for which NIH employees are no doubt grateful. So now that the deer population has reached “a level that is incompatible with some local land uses,” NIH is seeking a solution and seems to have settled upon birth control: specifically, ovariectomies.

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