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Family Planning for Deer? How Complex is Finding the Solution for Lyme Disease Control?

Controlling Lyme disease is a complex problem with no easy solution. There are many available options, all with plenty of support and opposition, but there is no unanimous and obvious choice. From controlling deer populations to controlling mouse populations, researchers are busy trying to find the right solution for every area affected. With exploding deer populations in suburban areas, relaxing of hunting regulations are not effective for some of the most hard-hit Lyme infected Massachusetts towns where hunting is not possible.

Increased Deer Hunting

There is a great deal of conflict in the idea of controlling Lyme disease by eliminating large portions of the deer population through increased deer hunting. According to Miles O’Brien in the PBS story, “deer were hunted nearly to extinction a century ago…” but with legal protections and “regulated harvests,” the deer population nationwide has increased dramatically. He cites there are more than 30 million deer in the United States.

The overpopulation has created a situation where deer are thriving in suburban areas looking for food and coming right up to homes. O’Brien says that 10 deer per square mile is a density of deer that could help reduce Lyme disease rates, but places like the Blue Hills Reservation outside of Boston in Milton, Massachusetts has approximately 85 deer per square mile. With such a large number of hosts for ticks, the area is suffering from a Lyme disease epidemic.

Many people are avidly against hunting the deer and are eager for a better solution.

Decrease Mouse Populations

White-footed mice are the reservoir host for ticks, responsible for infecting the ticks with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Targeting mice could essentially limit the spread of Lyme dramatically, but the practicality of that method has been called into question by experts working on the solution. At Mosquito Squad of the South Shore, we use these white-footed mice to target the ticks themselves. Providing treated nesting materials in tick tubes, the mice build their dens with it which eliminates the ticks that are living with and feeding on the mice.

Deer Birth Control?

Yes, we are serious. The National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland, are trying birth control for deer. They tranquilize the deer and then surgically sterilize them. With the benefit of wide-spread social support, deer birth control could be the long-term solution to Lyme disease.

The Humane Society is also joining the birth control effort with a birth control vaccine that lasts for approximately 22-months. This method is labor intensive and will require continuous constant effort. What’s the one big downfall? The birth control method takes approximately 5 – 10 years before its effects on the deer population is felt. So while it could be the long-term solution, it will require the sacrifice of immediate results.

While the experts work on short and long-term solutions to controlling Lyme disease, you can protect yourself and your family with tick control from Mosquito Squad of the South Shore today. With our Intensive Tick Treatment program, you can reduce ticks on your property by 85-90%. Call today for a free quote: 508-536-4855

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