Aggressive Deer Dissuasion: Effective Solutions
Lyme disease and human health
[The mouse is the primary host of the deer tick. Putting tick killer into cotton balls that the mice carry
back to their nests has been used to eliminate the tick.]
There is disagreement among specialists about the
relationship between deer populations and Lyme disease. There are no studies
that show unequivocally that removing a number of deer will lead to a
permanent decrease in Lyme disease. Experimentally, this approach has had
some results in limited areas, for short time periods, but it is not a
solution for larger areas and longer periods of time. It is extremely
difficult to completely eliminate deer from an area. When deer numbers are
merely reduced, the number of ticks per deer often increases.
It is even possible that removing deer, rather than
decreasing Lyme disease, has the opposite effect since a number of potential
hosts have been removed. Deer ticks are not host specific, any warm-blooded
animal can serve as host. When deer are removed from an area, the ticks
attach to other mammals, including humans. Since any mammal can carry an
infected tick, the killing of one species does little good. Rodents,
especially the deer mouse, are ready hosts and far more numerous than deer.
Cotton balls treated with insecticide and carried by mice back to their
nests has been effective. Of those people who have contracted Lyme disease,
few had physical contact with the deer. Since ticks do not jump, it can be
assumed that they obtained the tick from something other than a deer.
Taking preventive measures and being aware of the signs
and symptoms of Lyme disease continue to be the best ways of reducing risk.
Simple precautions such as wearing protective clothing, applying an insect
repellent, examining oneself for the presence of a tick after being in
fields or woods, showering or bathing after outings, avoiding these
tick-heavy areas in June and July are effective ways of avoiding the
If a tick does carry Lyme disease, it must remain on the
skin for a period of at least two days in order to pass on that disease. A
top clinic has found that 77% of Lyme diagnoses were wrong (New York Times,
6/15/93). It is incorrect to conclude that killing deer prevents or
decreases the incidence of this disease.
If deer are to be addressed at all in the effort to
control Lyme disease, then non-lethal methods again prove superior. Research
suggests that the black-legged tick population could be reduced to low
levels in three to five years if 95 percent of the ticks could be reduced on
90 percent of the deer ( K. Stafford, 2001). One of the most promising ways
to achieve this is through the "4- Poster Feeder" which delivers an
acaricide called Amitraz to the neck of deer when they come through to feed
on corn. Such success in tick reduction could never be achieved through
Go on to:
Deer damage to
residential landscaping – No more salad bars!
Wildlife Watch, Inc.