By Richard Gambino
All warm-blooded animals, and not just deer, carry ticks infected with Lyme disease. In fact, there are many studies confirming this. Here are just four — these, and all other reports cited in this article are accessible on the Internet, and I urge everyone to please read them:
1): A study by the Department of Biology at the University of Pennsylvania, says, “white-footed mice account for almost a quarter of infected ticks,” and lists other animals other than deer that also carry major numbers of infected ticks. It concludes, “Efforts to control Lyme disease and prevent its spread, the study said, must include strategies that account for multi-species carriers.” 2): A 13-year study by the Institute of Ecosystems in Millbrook, NY, says, “The population of deer? A nonstarter risk factor. …” Instead the “strongest predictors of a current year’s risk were the prior year’s abundance of mice and chipmunks.” 3): A study by the Yale School of Public Health says, “Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health have shown that birds have helped spread Lyme disease across North America.” 4): A report of The National Science Foundation says, “Mice are the main carriers of Lyme disease-causing bacteria. In the eastern and central United States, Lyme disease is contracted via blacklegged ticks that feed on infected mice, then transmit the bacteria when they bite people.”
A report by the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of the use of sixty 4-Poster devices on Shelter Island, says that ONLY deer, raccoons, and “squirrels infrequently” used the devices. (P.18) No other animals. Also, the 4-Poster devices attracted more deer and ticks to the devices’ areas. (P. 43.) And on p. 44 we are told, “… the increase in deer densities observed throughout the study can have significant negative impacts on future tick control efforts, natural and ornamental vegetation damage, and DVCs [deer killed by vehicles].” The CCE report also tells us that many hunters stopped killing deer for fear of touching, handling or eating venison from deer whose hides and neck muscles are saturated with the very dense concentration of the neurotoxin poison used on the 4-Posters, called permethrin, which the US EPA’s website says is highly toxic to fish, cats, honeybees and other insects beneficial to humans. The use of this toxin would increase the number of deer in North Haven, and increase the number of vehicles hitting deer. (From Oct. 2011 to July 2012 alone, 22 deer were killed by vehicles in North Haven.) The Village policy of encouraging deer hunting has reduced the number of deer there, according to aerial scans, from 456 in 1994 to 69 in 2008, the year of the last scan. These results would be reversed.
The CCE report says that each of the sixty 4-Poster units had to be serviced twice a week (p.7) by specially trained individuals. This is but one of many reasons why the program is extremely expensive — the residents of North Haven have not yet been told its yearly price. NYS may perhaps provide start-up money, but then the cost of the program will fall upon the taxpayers of the Village, and will cause property taxes to skyrocket. (The devices must be used in perpetuity, and indeed, a number are still in use on Shelter Island, and a total of 25 will be used there starting next spring, long past the trial period there from 2008 to 2010.)
At a meeting of the North Haven Village Board on Aug. 7, 2012, a representative from NYS, who was advocating the 4-Poster program, was asked the question, is there any evidence that the years of use of sixty of the devices had any effect on the incidence of Lyme disease on Shelter Island? His reply was there is no information about the incidence of Lyme disease there before, during or after the use of the sixty 4-Posters. None. There is no evidence whatsoever that the 4-Poster program protects humans from Lyme disease.
With all due respect to those responsible for the 4-Poster experiment, the 4-Poster program is critically and decisively flawed as a method of controlling Lyme disease. In addition it has many undesirable and detrimental effects (only a few of which have been cited in this article), and will cause property taxes greatly to increase. The 4-Poster program should not be employed in North Haven.
Richard Gambino is a resident of North Haven. The next meeting of the North Haven Board of Trustees will be on Thursday, September 6 at 5 p.m.