Outdoors

We're Doomed: Scientists Lacing Sunflower Seeds With Birth Control for Squirrels

In an age when politicians are proposing legislation to deny women access to birth control, scientists at South Carolina's Clemson University are giving it away for free -- to squirrels.

According to National Geographic, a warmer winter and a boom in nuts (of the food variety) has led to a growing number of grey squirrels that are blamed for destroying their surrounding environment.

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Squirrels have been captured and spayed (not unlike feral cats) for years, but catching enough squirrels to make a dent in their growing numbers has become difficult and expensive, so scientists are turning to one of the squirrel's favorite snacks -- sunflower seeds.

Each sunflower seed is laced with a drug called DiazaCon that lowers cholesterol, from which come sex hormones. The seeds are currently available in 16 campus feeders at Clemson University and contain pink dye that color the squirrels' stomachs so they're easily identifiable.

According to the scientists behind the study, the feeders are accessible only to grey squirrels (no word on the occasional smart, grey-hoodied college student looking for a bonus birth-control supplement). The experiment marks the first time the drug has been tested on squirrels in the wild.

Snack time.

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Claire Lawton
Contact: Claire Lawton