Letter: Tired of Lyme Disease?

By David Streit


The incidence of tick related diseases is on the rise in CT  This is the direct result of an overabundant deer herd. The most recent DEEP deer density survey taken on January 2012 suggested that Fairfield County had approximately 76 deer per square mile.  That is an increase from 64 deer per square mile 2 years prior. 

Communities that have successfully restored deer densities to 10-12 deer per square mile have experienced a drop in Lyme disease of 95%. Ticks simply fail to breed when deer are spread too thin for the ticks' high reproductive feeding needs. Other towns have appealed to DEEP for similar help in achieving this same disease-preventing level of deer reduction but so far to no avail. So what is standing between public health and high deer densities? 

DEEP wildlife regulations! Deer are protected for 7 ½ months out of the year by the hunting season. If the DEEP were to allow private landowners to remove deer on their own property year round these deer numbers could be brought under control by motivated landowners. Why should landowners be forced to play host to deer 7 ½ months out of the year when they pose a lethal threat to our children? Hundreds of thousands of tick eggs drop from a single deer each year as it grazes on our plants and vegetables in our back yards. No sooner have the deer fed overnight and in the morning in our yards, dropping thousands of tick eggs and our children go out to play.

In addition, many of these ticks are now carrying co-infections that can be more serious even than Lyme disease. Our public health and safety is at increasing risk.  We need to make it safe for kids to go outside again to hike and play rather than be forced to stay indoors dependent on electronic devices each day. Perhaps the DEEP could be encouraged to include humans as part of the environment they are paid by taxpayers to protect. 

Please call Daniel Esty at 800-424-3571 or email him at Daniel.Esty@ct.gov and tell him that you support private landowners being permitted to remove deer year round on their own property until deer are restored to 10-12 deer per square mile.  Your call counts.

Alexander Davis September 13, 2012 at 02:42 PM
You have yet to provide any evidence that the role of deer can be replaced. As I said, deer are the host for 95% of the adult egg-laying ticks. When the deer are eliminated, the tick density goes down as does the rate of tick-borne diseases. An example is Monhegan Island Maine. There are occasional ticks there dropped off by migrating birds, but they cannot reproduce since the deer have been removed. Other animals like dogs and cats can host the adult deer tick but these play a minimal role.
Peter September 14, 2012 at 04:53 PM
When deer, as a "preferred host" are reduced or eliminated, the remaining ticks enter an intensified "questing" phase and look for a replacement host, of which there are many. In suburban areas, the most likely would be our dogs (or, ourselves). This is why LD incidence can rise after a hunting program is implemented. Also, remember that during the hunting process, ticks drop off as the corpse cools, so they are not necessarily "eliminated" from an area along with the deer that is killed.
Natalie Jarnstedt September 14, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Mr. Davis, I don't have to do anything. I have all the studies at my fingertips, but you will never be satisfied because you choose to ignore studies that don't support your own views! Peter is absolutely correct! People think that killing deer also kills the ticks - it does NOT. Ticks are like rats on a sinking ship - they leave. Therefore, there will be many more ticks ready to take a flying leap onto any warm body that happens to come by, even yours!
Natalie Jarnstedt September 14, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Mr. Davis - this is all I am going to post, because there's no end to your arguments which make no sense! The American Lyme Disease Foundation does not advocate for deer killing programs to control the spread of Lyme. Ticks feed on 50 different species of mammals - including you! Studies found the elimination of deer actually caused tick "hot spots" or high concentrations of ticks on small areas of land. Other wildlife such as rodents brought infected ticks into the area resulting in tick concentrations. ("Localized Deer Absence Leads to Tick Amplification" by Sarah E. Perkins et. al., Ecology, 2006). A Senior Scientist from the Cary Institute of Ecology writes: A comprehensive review of the scientific literature on the relationship between numbers of deer and numbers of ticks reveals the majority of studies find no statistical correlation... deer do not infect ticks with Lyme bacteria, and actually reduce the infection prevalence in tick populations;” Richard S. Ostfeld, Ph.D., Lyme Disease: The Ecology of a Complex System (2010, Oxford University Press).
Amo Probus September 14, 2012 at 11:59 PM
I miss the wild turkeys. We use to see 20-25 walk through several times a week. Now, all I have is a beverage. I also miss the fish that lived in the nearby town pond that has since filled in with debris and become choked with fertilizer enriched algae. They don't maintain it. Sad really, makes me want to reach for that beverage all too often.


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