Animal Activists Argue Hunting Is Not An Option to Combat Lyme Disease
The number of Lyme disease infections reported is often linked directly to the local density of wild deer. Wild deer carry the ixodes scapularis blackegged-tick that is the primary vector for Lyme disease; so the number of infected ticks people risk exposure to increases with the number of deer.
Many townships in the northeastern United States have dramatically expanded hunting rights in order to lower the population of wild deer. In some townships and counties, the deer-hunting season has been in expanded. In other parts of the country, unorthodox methods of deer hunting – like using a bow and arrow instead of a rifle – have been embraced instead.
But anti hunting activists argue that expanding hunting rights will not combat Lyme disease; and doing so is little more than animal cruelty.
“The argument that sport hunting will solve suburban deer problems is flawed,” argues Laura Simon, field director of the Connecticut Urban Wildlife Program. “It fails to examine how deer relate to our communities, and the pleasure and enjoyment the vast majority of us have in everyday contact with these animals.”
“The Lyme disease-causing tick is carried by more than 150 species of animals, meaning it is here to stay. Recent science tells us that hunting will not reduce human cases of Lyme disease unless nearly all the deer are removed from the environment and kept removed for years.”
“Even then, some researchers warn that hunting can actually increase public safety risks because ticks will look for alternative large hosts and be more likely to end up on humans after deer numbers have been reduced.”
“The ecological impacts of deer are highly complex, but must start with the understanding that deer were here and were interacting with our forests a long, long time before we were. Is there any sense in perhaps not interfering and letting the plants and the deer work out a new relationship?”
Simon’s views are interesting, and highlight one of the challenges homeowners face in parts of country with relatively high deer populations.
More than 70% of tick bites that are later found to have transmitted the borrelia burgdorferi bacterium which causes Lyme disease occur in people’s gardens and yards; as a result of ticks “dropped off” by passing deer or other animals.
Although hunting can reduce the density of wild deer in a township, it does nothing to prevent tick bites in your yard and garden if infected ticks are already present.
To protect yourself and your family, the answer is not a hunting license. It’s talking to a tick control expert like one of the specialists from Aspenn Environmental Services. They’ll be able to advise you on a yard spray for ticks and tick spray treatments that can get rid of ticks from your property and help keep your yard and garden tick safe whether hunting rights in your region are expanded or not.