Oh Deer!, Reason, July 201930 million of Bambi’s buddies are on the loose in the U.S., causing crop damage and car accidents. Markets can help. Part of the reason for the rise of these programs is a steady national decline in the original wildlife management tool: sport hunting. Participation has fallen from 11 percent of American adults in 1960 to just 4 percent today. In an era of overabundance, it seems odd, if not outright counterproductive, for so many U.S. state and federal policies to cling to long-standing prohibitions on marketing game.

Deer Get by with a Little Help from Bat Friends, Scientific American, June 2019Minnesota white-tailed deer have found an unlikely ally in bats, which eat the biting flies the deer attract
Sen. Collins calls for $100 million federal response to fight tick-borne diseases, Portland Press Herald, May 23, 2019Maine Sen. Susan Collins on Thursday introduced a bill that would devote more than $100 million in new federal spending to combat Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. The bill also would create an Office of Oversight and Coordination for Vector-Borne Disease at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and re-authorize Regional Centers of Excellence in Vector-Borne Disease for an additional five years, funded at $10 million per year.Disease Threatening Deer Population Has Spread to 26 States, WSJ, Feb 7, 2019An illness similar to mad-cow disease that is fatal to deer is spreading across the U.S., worrying hunters, wildlife-management officials and scientists. Scientists said there had been no case of the disease being transmitted to humans through tainted venison or other means. But studies showing its risks to nonhuman primates raise concerns, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of Mice and Deer, Kiplingers Personal Finance, Oct 2018Hitting a deer with your car may damage the vehicle but is unlikely to injure you. But swerving to miss a deer… instead collidin with a guardrail, tree or another car is an entirely different story. State Farm has studied deer collisions and its latest study puts the national average cost per claim at $4179.

Tick Check, New Yorker, Aug 27, 2018Ticks wait in the grass and the leaves with their legs outstretched, ready to attach to a passing host, burrow into the host’s skin, and feed on the host’s blood while transmitting disease through their saliva, often within a few hours of contact. Kids are particularly vulnerable to ticks because of their exposure to the outdoors, so get in the habit of checking them every ten minutes. More if they’re yours. The elderly, too, are highly susceptible to the diseases transmitted by ticks, simply because they no longer have the strength to argue with Medicare.

The deer expanding population problem has made it to national news lately:

The Big Number: Lyme disease is now in 100 percent of the U.S., Washington Post, Aug 4, 2018

    If you thought you were safe from Lyme disease because you don’t live in New England, where the tick-borne illness first appeared, think again. Now, 100 percent of the country — all 50 states plus the District — has residents who have tested positive for Lyme, a bacterial infection that can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including joint aches, fatigue, facial palsy and neck stiffness.

Here’s why there are so many coyotes and why they are spreading so fast, Washington Post, May 22, 2018

    Coyotes do not breed like rats, but they could hold their own in a contest. It is an animal that, when threatened, somehow reacts by making more coyotes, becoming stealthier, nearly impossible to find even as their numbers grow.

CDC apologizes for hiding ticks on a poppyseed muffin to warn of Lyme disease threat, USAToday, May 8, 2018The images from last week showed a poppyseed muffin, that paragon of American breakfast pastries, with no fewer than five blood-sucking arachnids hidden on top. It’s part of a CDC effort to warn Americans of tick-borne infections such as Lyme disease that the agency said are on the rise.

This Scary New Report Shows How Unprepared We Are to Fight Tick- and Mosquito-Borne Diseases,, May 4, 2018William K. Reisen, an emeritus medical entomology professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California-Davis, points out that because insect control efforts are often funded by property taxes, sparsely populated areas are particularly hard hit. “For West Nile virus, some of the highest incidence is in the Dakotas—well, no one lives there hardly,” he says. “So it’s hard to get the money to control those mosquitoes.”

The federal government has stepped up its efforts in the last few years. In 2016, Congress authorized the CDC to use an additional $350 million to fight the mosquito-borne Zika virus—the agency used some of that money the following year to launch five new research centers to study vector-borne diseases. Congress also established the Tick-Borne Disease Working Group in 2017. West Nile hospitalizations have cost nearly $800 million since 1999.

No one really knows exactly how much vector-borne illnesses cost the nation, because so many cases go unreported. But CDC spokesman Benjamin Haynes told me the annual estimated cost for Lyme tests alone is about $492 million. Since 1999, he added, the costs associated with hospitalizing people sickened by West Nile are estimated at $778 million. Yet in 2018, the budget for CDC’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases is less than $50 million, with $10.6 million of that dedicated to Lyme disease.

Diseases spread by ticks, mosquitoes and fleas more than tripled in the U.S. since 2004, Washington Post, May 1, 2018For ticks, the higher temperatures have allowed them to spread into new areas, allowing them to live farther north, and that puts more people at risk, he said. What’s more, he said, “when the tick season is longer, people are exposed over longer periods.”

But other factors also play a role. The number of Lyme disease cases has increased rapidly because the population of deer — and deer ticks — has skyrocketed. “In New England 100 years ago, there were hardly any trees because they were all cut down for farmland, and the deer had been hunted to extinction,” he said. “All those forests have grown back, the deer population exploded, and the tick populations have also exploded, bringing more disease.”

Tick and Mosquito Infections Spreading Rapidly, C.D.C. Finds, NYTimes, May 1, 2018Lyme disease made family doctors begin to suspect tick bites in patients with fevers. Laboratories began looking for different pathogens in blood samples, especially in patients who did not have Lyme. That led to the discovery of previously unknown diseases.

The Interior Department Has Cleared the Way for Energy Developers to Destroy Natural Habitats, Mother Jones, Jan 6, 2018The sweeping order, which Bernhardt signed Dec. 22., affects a department that manages a fifth of the nation’s land, 19 percent of U.S. energy supplies and most of the water in the 12 Western states. Zinke directed staff to scour their agencies to find policies that hamper energy development. It works to remove barriers to energy development. The report says that even some of the nation’s most treasured areas—including national monuments, national conservation lands and wild and scenic rivers—won’t be spared from Trump administration efforts to promote energy development. The new order, which was effective immediately and does not require congressional approval, stems from Zinke’s March directive.

Hunting is down in the US. The Trump administration wants to change that, CNN, Sept 22, 2017On his first day in office back in March, Zinke issued two orders, one which overturned a recent ban of lead ammunition and fish tackle on Fish and Wildlife Service lands and waters. Last week Zinke issued another secretarial order designed to increase access to various public lands for hunters and fishers.

This Technology Could Stop the World’s Deadliest Animal, Mother Jones News, Aug 14, 2017

    Scientists had been putting the CRISPR tools into their target cells as separate pieces. What if you introduced them into the embryos as a single, heritable element? Those creatures and their descendants—all of them—would retain the gene-editing ability in their DNA. The system would be self-propagating. In short, you could rig nature’s game so your gene would win every time!

    But one could build, for instance, a drive targeting Aedes mosquitoes that leaves their offspring unable to reproduce, or one that makes Anopheles mosquitoes unable to transmit malaria. You could design a drive to control a stubborn crop pest or to render white-footed mice incapable of acting as a vessel by which ticks pick up and spread Lyme disease.

  • The Year of the Tick, The Slate, June 26, 2017
      If you’re worried about ticks this year—and if you live in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, or Midwest, you probably should be—these five strategies are crucial: Do daily tick checks, Treat your clothes, Spray your skin before going into the woods, Treat your pets, Give ticks no refuge. Another good move: Rid your property of Japanese barberry, an invasive plant that provides ticks with a “buffered microclimate” that keeps them from desiccating and dying.

    • Lyme Disease: Inside America’s Mysterious Epidemic, Rolling Stone, June 20, 2017Finally, in 1981, a scientist named Willy Burgdorfer discovered that Lyme was caused by bacteria carried in mice and deer and transmitted by deer ticks. The spirochete bacteria in question, borrelia burgdorferi, was named in his honor. Once it was established that Lyme disease was a bacterial infection, the course of treatment seemed obvious: antibiotics. Doctors began treating patients with a six- or 12-week dose. Some people got better, but not all of them. Cut to 36 years later, and not much has changed.
    • First Report of Dwarf Deer Tick Comes as Overall Population Soars, Global Lyme Alliance, June 8, 2017In addition to the increasing number of ticks, a greater percentage is infected with the Lyme disease pathogen. “Historically, based on our studies, the infection rate has been in the range of 27 to 32 percent, but this year so far, we have recorded up to 38 percent of ticks infected, and in some regions the infection rate reaches up to 50 percent.Scientists at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) have discovered an adult female deer tick that could even more easily escape notice, because it is half the normal size. The miniature tick was just 1.5 millimeters long, compared to the typical 3-millimeter length of an adult female deer tick. As a nymph, it may have been tinier yet.

    • See a deer eating a human for the first time in recorded history, International Business Times, May 10, 2017A human corpse was left on a 26-acre woodland site, known as a “body farm”, as part of a study to see how human bodies decompose in the wild – including the way animals interact with them. Other animals are often seen snacking on decomposing bodies but this is the first time that a deer has been seen helping itself.
    • Why Doubt Invasive Species Impacts?, National Geographic, Nov 25, 2016In two scientific papers released this week myself and colleagues have tried to understand why invasive species have such a low public profile compared to climate change, and furthermore why some elements of society would even try to deny that there is even a problem.
    • Arby’s takes a stab at venison sandwiches in select locations, USA Today, Oct 26, 2016
        “Bringing venison to our menu also allows us to continue to set ourselves apart from the competition when it comes to proteins,” he said. “You simply can’t find this at other restaurant chains.”
    • A Natural Cure for Lyme Disease, New York Times, Aug 20, 2016It’s worrisome that in recent decades, Lyme cases have surged, nearly quadrupling in Michigan and increasing more than tenfold in Virginia. It’s now the “single greatest vector-borne disease in the United States,” Danielle Buttke, an epidemiologist with the National Park Service in Fort Collins, Colo., told me, and it’s “expanding on a really epic scale.”If humans have inadvertently increased the chances of contracting Lyme disease, the good news is that there’s a potential fix: allow large predators, particularly wolves and cougars, to return. They would help keep down the number of deer, which, although they don’t carry the Lyme-causing bacterium, probably encourage its transmission.

    • Is a Cure For Lyme Disease On the Horizon?, Town and Country, July 8, 2016The tests sanctioned by the Centers for Disease Control—ELISA
 and Western Blot—look only for anti-bodies and are notorious for giving both false positives and false negatives. “We’re looking for the bug in blood, and that
 has been the holy grail of Lyme disease research,” says Paul Fiedler, a pathologist with the Western Connecticut Medical Group and the director of the group’s Lyme registry, which collects blood from patients with the goal of isolating either the organism or its DNA.

      “It’s a very complicated and confusing disease,” says artist Ally Hilfiger, daughter of designer Tommy Hilfiger. “A lot of people get bitten by a tick, get a positive test result, go on antibiotics, and—bam— are better in 30 days. For those who don’t, it’s completely crippling and it steals your life.” At age 18, Hilfiger crash-landed at Silver Hill, in the middle of a mental breakdown, and soon was diagnosed with Lyme. At seven she was bitten by a tick, and then 11 years of clinical limbo, because of repeated false negative test results, clouded what should have been an idyllic childhood in Greenwich, with pain, fatigue, and illness.

      On the human level, the situation calls for both common sense and desperate measures. More and more communities are culling their deer populations; on Monhegan Island, Maine, this approach virtually eradicated the disease.

    • Too Many Deer on the Road? Let Cougars Return, Study Says, New York Times, July 18, 2016
        Laura R. Prugh, a wildlife scientist at the University of Washington; Sophie L. Gilbert, a wildlife ecologist at the University of Idaho; and several colleagues argue in the journal Conservation Letters that if eastern cougars returned to their historic range, they could prevent 155 human deaths and 21,400 human injuries, and save $2.3 billion, over the course of 30 years.
    • Controversial New Push to Tie Microbes to Alzheimer’s Disease, Scientific American, March 21, 2016The editorial, signed by 31 scientists around the world, argues that in certain vulnerable individuals—such as those with the APOE ε4 gene variant, a known Alzheimer’s risk factor—common microbial infections can infect the aging brain and cause debilitating damage. These microbes may include herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), the ubiquitous virus that causes cold sores as well as Chlamydophila pneumoniae and Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that cause pneumonia and Lyme disease, respectively.
    • Lyme disease–carrying ticks are now in half of all U.S. counties, Science, Jan 18, 2016The ticks that transmit Lyme disease, a debilitating flulike illness caused by Borrelia bacteria, are spreading rapidly across the United States. A new study shows just how rapidly. Over the past 20 years, the two species known to spread the disease to humans have together advanced into half of all the counties in the United States.
    • Wildlife Management Can’t Be Avoided in Either the City or the Wilderness, New York Times, Jan 13, 2016
        The saga of wildlife management in Rocky Mountain National Park offers a lesson that New Yorkers should heed: Wildlife management cannot be avoided because even well-intentioned attempts to “leave nature alone” can cause grave ecological harm.
    • How Urbanites Misunderstand Wildlife, New York Times, Jan 13, 2016The urbanites do understand the need to manage burgeoning animal populations in some areas, but they’d rather use nonlethal means than hunting or culling. With more individuals starting their relationships with wildlife by imbuing it with sentimentality, and the number of hunters on the decline, the consequences will be a result of conflicts over how to deal with invasive species and wildlife population control.
    • Gigi Hadid Shares Story of Mom’s Struggle With Lyme Disease, Forward, Oct 16, 2015As I listened to supermodel Gigi Hadid share her mom Yolanda Foster’s valiant struggle with undiagnosed chronic Lyme Disease—-as did Tommy Mattola about the years’ long ordeal of his wife singer-actress Thalia and Tommy Hilfiger told of daughter Ally’s anguish at the Global Lyme Alliance Inaugural Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street—I realized how lucky I was some twenty years ago when a Bucharest (Romania)-born doctor in Queens diagnosed what I thought was a recluse spider bite as a tick bite and treated me instantly for Lyme saving me from a horrific what-might-have been…”
    • Non-Lethal Weapon: HSUS’s Failed Deer Fertility Control Plan, Protect the Harvest, Sept 2, 2015The HSUS representatives, after surveying the land and deer patterns [in Ann Arbor], claim that they can effectively sterilize around 65% of the doe population and in the very best of circumstances 85%. When you are talking about hundreds of deer this is, even in the ideal scenario, far below the 95% needed in an urban area as determined by the Cornell study. Yet, the representatives said that this low percentage should be enough to impact the population. You know, because they said so… that’s good enough right?
    • Deer Accused Of ‘Stalking’ People, Stomping Small Dogs, Huffington Post, Sept 24, 2015“No matter how cute and seemingly domesticated, these are wild creatures. Their behaviors are unpredictable,” they said on the city’s website.Vargas said there is no easy solution. Giving the does birth control would be costly and ineffective, he said, and one would have to kill between 40 and 50 deer a year to have an impact that way. Trapping and moving them would just transfer the problem to another community, as the deer have become acclimated to city life, he said.

    • Car Repairs From Deer Collisions Will Cost More, New York Time, Sept 16, 2015The national cost per claim from hitting a deer rose 6 percent to more than $4,100 from about $3,900 in 2014, State Farm says. One factor in the increase, said a State Farm spokeswoman, Rachael Risinger, is the rising costs for auto body repairs.
    • Deer Management Solutions: It Takes a Village. Literally., Cool, Green Science, Aug 25, 2015They just moved in across the street. Right away they took to wandering up and down the block, helping themselves to whatever they could find to eat: that arbor vitae in your front yard, for example. Or the snow peas that were just starting to creep up their trellises. The sunflower seeds once contained by your now-empty bird feeder. They also increase the likelihood that you, your family and pets will contract Lyme disease.Our communities have a problem—one that is trotting on four hooves from woods and fields right into our neighborhoods at an astonishing rate: white-tailed deer. For thousands of communities across our nation, the deer problem hits close to home.

    • The Truth About Chronic Lyme Disease, Yahoo News, Aug 15, 2015The often-debilitating disease begins with a bite from a blacklegged tick infected, in North America, with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. “Most humans are infected through the bites of immature ticks called nymphs,” according to the CDC. “Nymphs are tiny (less than 2mm) and difficult to see.” This is what Rambo suspects bit her in her garden, though it typically takes upward of 36 hours for the immature tick to transmit the bacterium — not the few seconds it took her to brush the insect away with her gardening glove.
    • Ticks: Summer’s Unwanted Guests, New York Times, Aug 12, 2015Jill Kargman, the author, actress and creator of the Bravo show “Odd Mom Out” who was there, said the anxious conversation reflected a growing phobia of diseases borne by the arachnid among her set, with invasive nightly checks of spouses and children — limbs spread, hair frantically raked — now as routine as brushing teeth.
    • The Lyme disease debate: Can the condition be chronic?, Fox News, May 6, 2015Q: What is it that’s creating the epidemic?
      A: It’s because of the deer, but also the white-footed mouse, chipmunks, raccoons, foxes, moles, voles, the ticks are now even on birds. The reason it’s a worldwide epidemic is the ticks get on birds and they go to Canada, they go to China. When I was in China and I was speaking with their CDC … they told me privately 6 percent of the Chinese population had been diagnosed with Lyme.

      You need to do prevention because one of the viruses we’re now finding, the Powassan virus can get into your body within 15 minutes of a tick bite, and the mortality rates are 10 to 15 percent — up to 30 percent in some studies. So you could get multiple viruses … relapsing fever bacteria, a malarial organism like babesia, with one tick bite. It overwhelms the immune system and that’s one of the reasons people don’t get better.

    • Barberry, Bambi and bugs: The link between Japanese barberry and Lyme disease, Scientific America Blog, March 30, 2011
        The prevalence of ticks infected with the Lyme disease–causing spirochete (Borrelia burgdorferi) is greater in areas with Japanese barberry than areas without. “Deer eat everything but barberry, and because they don’t eat barberry, they’re weeding out forests. They’re helping promote the invasive species,” explains Jeff Ward, chief scientist for the Department of Forestry and Horticulture at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES).

        Japanese barberry has denser foliage than most native species. As a result, the plants retain higher humidity levels. Ticks need humidity and become desiccated when levels drop below 80 percent. Relative humidity under a barberry is about 100 percent at night.

    • Montgomery County looks at bowhunting to cull deer, Washington Post, July 29, 2015The county’s deer management program has expanded to keep pace, and officials recently proposed a pilot archery hunting program aimed at culling deer herds in Germantown and Potomac.The proposed bowhunting program would allow no more than six hunters in a park at a time, and all hunters will be chosen based on their experience, a background check, safety and ethics training, and their expertise with a bow and arrow.“One of our responsibilities is to manage the parks for biodiversity, and when deer over-browse, it threatens the future of certain plant species and the habitat that is necessary for our wildlife . . . such as nesting niches for birds and rodents and other wildlife,” he said.Since the county’s deer management program began 19 years ago, hunters have killed nearly 15,000 deer and donated about 750,000 servings of venison to area shelters and food pantries, county officials said.

    • Geographic Distribution and Expansion of Human Lyme Disease, United States, Emerging Infectious Diseases, August 2015Risk for encounters with infected ticks, even within high-incidence counties, is influenced by human behavior and varying landscape characteristics that impact tick abundance and small mammal species composition. Geographic expansion of high-risk areas may occur because of changes in conditions that favor tick survival or because of geographic dispersal of infected ticks by birds and deer to areas where other necessary components already exist to support ongoing transmission. Our results show that geographic expansion of high-risk areas is ongoing, emphasizing the need to identify broadly implementable and effective public health interventions to prevent human Lyme disease.
    • Michigan confirms 1st case of chronic wasting in wild deer, Washington Times, May 26, 2015Wildlife officials stressed there is neither a food safety nor a public health issue and lack evidence of transmission to humans, but global health experts generally recommend that infected animals not be eaten by humans or domestic animals.
      Officials said the state has tested about 34,000 wild deer since 1998 and found no evidence of the disease. About 21,000 samples from privately owned deer populations have been tested for the disease and all were negative in the state except for the western Michigan case.

      Wildlife officers noted that it’s likely the infected deer lived its entire life in Ingham County, since does in suburban areas tend to have a limited home range. Still, they can’t be sure this is the only case.

    • Grass plants can transport infectious prions, Science Daily, May 15 2015“There is no proof of transmission from wild animals and plants to humans,” said lead author Claudio Soto, Ph.D., professor of neurology at UTHealth Medical School and director of the UTHealth George and Cynthia W. Mitchell Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Brain Related Illnesses. “But it’s a possibility that needs to be explored and people need to be aware of it. Prions have a long incubation period.”
      Soto’s team analyzed the retention of infectious prion protein and infectivity in wheat grass roots and leaves incubated with prion-contaminated brain material and discovered that even highly diluted amounts can bind to the roots and leaves. When the wheat grass was consumed by hamsters, the animals were infected with the disease. The team also learned that infectious prion proteins could be detected in plants exposed to urine and feces from prion-infected hamsters and deer.
    • Avril Lavigne on Her Struggle With Lyme Disease,, April 1, 2015
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    • If You Care About the Environment and Feeding the Hungry, Shoot Some Deer, Takeapart, March 11, 2015
        White-tailed deer overpopulation has been referred to as a problem larger than climate change. The deer prefer the young shoots and leaves of baby trees, which limits the natural regeneration of forests as older trees die. The only plants that do survive are the ones the deer don’t like, like the hay-scented fern, which, though it only covered 3 percent of forestland in 1900, now covers nearly a third. The deer outcompete any other animal that likes the same plants it likes, including, for example, several kinds of caterpillars. So the caterpillars die, and in turn the animals that eat the caterpillars, like birds, also die. The deer used to have natural predators in wolves and mountain lions, but those were extirpated before the deer’s comeback in the mid-20th century, leaving nothing to keep the population in check.
    • Exhibit at Smithsonian Natural History MuseumWhile many native species are in trouble, white-tailed deer are thriving. Many people think of them as woodland animals, but they can live in prairies, and near farmlands and suburban backyards. Where populations are high because there are no natural predators, browsing deer can change the composition of plant and animal communities.
    • Deer Hunting in D.C. Park Upheld on Appeal, Courthouse News Service, Jan 26, 2015WASHINGTON (CN) – Protecting the native ecology of Rock Creek Park justified the mass killing of deer there, the D.C. Circuit ruled, upholding the first authorized killing of animals in that park’s 120-year history.
      Rock Creek, a 1,750-acre national park in north Washington, has been overcrowded with white-tailed deer since the early 1990s.
      A deer-management plan that the service published in 2009 recommended a combination of lethal and non-lethal population-control methods to bring the deer population down to 15 to 20 per square mile.
      In Defense of Animals and five individuals who objected to the plan filed suit after its adoption in May 2012. In ruling against the activists as well last week, the D.C. Circuit rejected their claims that the Park Service failed to meet the threshold for taking action.
    • How our furry friends could be costing drivers billions per year, CNBC, Jan 25, 2015Animal lovers may take umbrage, and the advice does seem horrifying. Yet a wide body of evidence suggests that motorists should actually hit animals that jump in front of their cars instead of trying to avoid them, if the driver cannot brake safely.
    • Deer airborne after car hits it; driver in 2nd car killed,, Jan 22, 2015SALISBURY, Md. (AP) — Maryland State Police say a driver was killed when a deer struck by another car became airborne and crashed through her windshield.
    • A New Front in the Lyme Wars, The New Yorker, Jan 15, 2015Moreover, at least four pathogens, in addition to the Lyme bacterium, can be transmitted by the black-legged tick: Anaplasma phagocytophilum, which causes anaplasmosis; Babesia microti, which causes babesiosis; Borrelia miyamotoi, a recently discovered genetic relative of the Lyme spirochete; and Powassan virus. Some of these infections are more dangerous than Lyme, and more than one can infect a person at the same time. Simultaneous infection, scientists suggest, may well enhance the strength of the assault on the immune system, while making the disease itself harder to treat or recognize.
    • Lyme disease enhances spread of emerging tick infectionYale News, Dec 29, 2014“Ticks and natural hosts are commonly co-infected in nature, so understanding how these pathogens may influence each other’s abundance and distribution is key for public health,” Diuk-Wasser said. “We found that B. burgdorferi and B. microti co-occur in ticks more frequently than expected, resulting in enhanced human exposure to multiple infections that can cause more severe symptoms and sometimes make diagnosis more difficult.”
    • Autumn Hunting May Fight Summer Lyme Disease , Inside Science, Dec 26, 2014Lurking in the trees of the northeast and upper Midwest is a great abundance of deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis for the eastern black-legged tick, and Ixodes pacificus for the western black-legged tick), which can carry Borrelia burgdorferi – the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.
    • Chronology of coverage: deer issues, New York Times, 2014News about Deer, including commentary and archival articles published in The New York Times.
    • What the Deer Are Telling Us,Nautilus, Dec 11, 2014He looked at me as if the point was obvious. “Deer, like humans,” he said, “can come in and eliminate biodiversity, though not to their immediate detriment.”
    • Venison As Benison: Food Banks Score From Deer Overpopulation, NPR, Dec 9, 2014White tailed deer are so common in Washington, D.C., that my kids barely take note, even if I have to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting them. But the National Park Service says there’s a problem beyond the risk of driver-deer collisions, which lead to an estimated $4 billion in damages each year. The overabundance of deer are a threat to native vegetation.
      Around the country, there are lot of examples of deer meat being salvaged and donated to food banks. In Pennsylvania, a group called Hunters Sharing The Harvest helps hunters distribute their extra venison, using a state-wide network of butchers who help coordinate deliveries to local food banks.
      According to Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles, spokesperson for the National Park Service’s National Capital Region, government agencies have been linking their deer reduction efforts to food banks seeking protein for years. Not only do they provide the meat, but the agencies also usually pay to have the meat ground and cut by local processors.
      Hunters in many states are doing the same thing. In New York State, the Venison Donation Program is a partnership between hunters and the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, which received 6,274 pound of venison in 2013. The donations are made at no cost to hunters.
      And, in Indianapolis, according to a report from, 4,800 pounds of deer meat is expected to be donated to the Gleaner’s Food Bank this year. Some of the meat was donated from a private deer hunt in Eagle Creek Park.
      Gleaner’s Food Bank welcomed the donation, noting that venison doesn’t come cheap. If you’re paying retail for this meat, you’re looking at upwards of $9 a pound.
    • Ohio national park plan calls for 4-year deer cull, Washington Times, December 5, 2014 AKRON, Ohio (AP) – Sharpshooters would kill as many as 350 deer annually for four years under a plan to reduce herd size in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, under a plan announced this week. The goal of the plan unveiled Thursday is reaching sustainable numbers of 15-30 deer per square mile in the park between Cleveland and Akron, down from the current 41 per square mile.
    • In the Crosshairs: What happens when a national park has too many deer?, National Parks Conservation Association, Fall 2014Allowing deer to destroy the habitat for all the other animals in the parks is unacceptable, say national park managers. Over-browsing also leads to severe erosion, particularly now that climate change is causing more intense storms. “Given all the damage done over the decades, it’s hard to know when things will come back,” says Valley Forge’s Gibson. “We can’t step back to how things were before deer made the land so bare. Today, the climate is much hotter, rain is more acidified, and rainstorms are more hurricane-like, which intensifies erosion. We’re in a brave new world as far as forest regeneration.”
    • New Research: Urban Bowhunts Control Deer, Reduce Lyme Disease, October 24, 2014 in Conservation, Industry Data & Trends, Archery Trade AssociationThe 13-year study, which ran from 1995 through 2008 in Mumford Cove and Groton Long Point, used hunters to reduce deer densities from a peak of 80 deer per square mile to about 13 per square mile. That decline in deer numbers slashed tick abundance by 76 percent, which resulted in 80 percent fewer cases of Lyme disease reported by the towns’ residents, who were surveyed at least six times during the study.
    • Trying to limit the number of deer, with surprising results, WashingtonPost, Sept 29, 2014Cornell’s administrators chose to experiment with sterilizing many of the wild deer on campus — and the result was something that nobody anticipated. Cornell chose tubal ligation, which unlike chemical forms of birth control, is typically permanent and avoids the expense of capturing the same deer each year to maintain their infertility. At a cost of roughly $1,200 per deer, 77 does were captured and sterilized though tubal ligation. (Without the help of the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, the costs would have been higher.) However, because the ligated does were unable to become pregnant, they continued to produce chemical signals of readiness to reproduce — signals that can attract bucks from miles away– so the number of deer on campus did not decrease, just many more males than normal.
    • As Lyme disease spreads in the U.S., those in its path cope with a debilitating, bewildering array of maladies, misery and afflictions., Daily Climate, Sept22, 2014Reasons for the spread are not fully understood but include suburbanization and the growth of suitable habitat for the black-legged tick, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC believes climate change may be a factor, and this spring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency added Lyme disease to its list of climate change indicators.
    • Deer prove dangerous to airports and pilots, PBS NewsHour, Sept24, 2014From 1990 to 2013, there were 1,088 collisions between planes and deer, elk, moose and caribou, according to a recent joint report by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Agriculture Department. Most of the planes suffered damage, and some were destroyed, the report said. One person was killed and 29 others injured. The vast majority of collisions involved white-tailed deer.
    • Deer jam traffic on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, USA Today, Sept 9, 2014Two deer made it across the bridge, creating a backup during rush hour. Lucky for them it was rush hour and the traffic was thick; if it had been a slower time, they might have gotten hit.
    • National Park Service considers ways to reduce Fire Island deer herd, Newsweek, August 28, 2014 The Humane Society worked with the park service on a 15-year study of an immunocontraceptive vaccine on the deer population, and Griffin said the vaccine cut the deer population on Fire Island in half from 1995 to 2009. The park service said the vaccine used in the Humane Society study is unacceptable because of the short duration of a dose, the lack of federal approval for the vaccine, and breeding behavior in vaccinated does.
    • Notes from the Deer Wars: Science & Values in the Eastern Forest, The Nature Conservancy (blog), Sept 22, 2014“Look into a typical eastern forest, and you’ll have really big dominant trees, and you’ll have ferns or other undesirable vegetation that deer don’t find appetizing,” says Mike Eckley, conservation forester for The Nature Conservancy in Pennsylvania. “You don’t have seedlings. You don’t have saplings. You don’t have intermediate trees. None of them can survive because deer eat them as soon as they sprout.”
    • Culling Deer Herd Curbs Lyme Disease, Study Says, US World & News Report, July11, 2014the study included nearly all the permanent residents of a Connecticut community who reported their cases of Lyme disease between 1995 and 2008. The researchers found that a hunting program to reduce the number of deer in the area led to a significant reduction in the number of cases of Lyme disease. Reducing deer density by 87 percent — to 5.1 deer per square kilometer (four-tenths of a square mile) — resulted in a 76 percent reduction in the tick population, according to the study, published recently in the Journal of Medical Entomology.
    • Failed HSUS “University” Becomes “Academy”,, July 8, 2014We reported several months ago that the Humane Society of the United States’ education arm—Humane Society University—is dead. The whole program seemed like a scam from the get-go: HSUS tried to get accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which would have allowed HSUS to get federal (i.e. taxpayer-funded) grants. Getting federal grants isn’t a big deal if you’re the University of Virginia, but when you’re the educational arm of a radical animal liberation group with a PETA-like agenda, the taxpayers shouldn’t have to subsidize your propaganda. Fortunately, it seems Humane Society “University” couldn’t get accreditation.
    • P0000052Plan to surgically sterilize female deer OKd in East Hampton, Newsday, June 30, 2014
    • Outdoors: Legislation is needed to help control deer population,, June 30, 2014
    • Call of the wild suburban style, USA Today, June 9, 2014
    • As Park Service Culls Deer in Washington, It Helps Charities Fill Bellies, New York Times, May 14, 2014
    • Michigan city to consider killing urban deer to reduce thriving herd,, May 6, 2014An aerial survey of the Marshall Nature Area in northeast Ann Arbor during late last year indicated a deer density of 76 per square mile. That’s far too many, according to Council Member Jane Lumm, a co-sponsor of the bill who claims significant health concerns propels the need for such a solution.
    • Deer birth control: NY town’s project off to slow start, USAToday, April 7, 2014Hastings-on-Hudson Mayor Peter Swiderski said that out of 120 deer, only eight doe were tranquilized, tagged and injected with birth control over the monthlong program in March, seven in the final week alone. That was far short of the goal of injecting 40 to 50 does in the first two years.
    • Suburban Deer Management in Pennsylvania, Wildlife Management Pro, April 2014In what could be seen as a softening of tactics, Unified Sportsmen’s president is now proposing ideas that would help the Game Commission to trim deer populations in urban areas. Santucci said he understands the irony.“This is something from outside the box,” he said, “to help address the economic impact of hunters no longer going to camps in the mountains where there used to be lots of deer, and problems in the suburbs where they have the opposite problem of too many deer.”

    • Can’t See the Forest for the Deer, Wall Street Journal, March 11, 2014
    • Killing Wildlife: The Pros and Cons of Culling Animals, National Geographic, Daily News, March 5, 2014
      (you may need to create an account to see article)
    • Overgrazing by deer is changing the face of U.S. forests, Earthsky, March 18, 2014
    • City uses birth control to limit nuisance deer herd, USAToday, March 18, 2014To reduce those numbers, Hastings is trying to keep its female deer from getting pregnant by injecting them with a contraceptive vaccine. That has researchers from the Humane Society of the United States cruising the village’s streets.
      The Teatown Lake Reservation in Yorktown recently enlisted specially trained biologists to shoot 11 deer. Some Westchester County parks and the Mianus River Gorge Preserve have used bow hunters to reduce their deer numbers.
      Researchers hope to treat 60 deer this year and during the next two winters, and to continue to monitor them. Captured does — tranquilized first with a drug-filled dart — will have a numbered ear tag attached, blood drawn for a pregnancy test and an initial vaccine dose. Known as PZP, the vaccine uses a doe’s immune system to stop her eggs from being fertilized.
      But after about a week of looking for deer, Naugle and Grams had tagged and treated just one. They can fire at deer no more than 20 yards away with their air-powered rifles, and they are still learning where the animals spend their days.
    • Killing deer to make our lives easier?, CNN News, Feb 13, 2014
    • Browsing suburbia: Virginia’s parceled-up farms and forests are ideal refuge for white-tailed deer, Smithsonian Science, Feb 12, 2014
    • Taxpayers doling out too much dough to control deer, critics charge, Fox News, Jan 18, 2014While some communities have used lethal means to curb the exploding population of deer, which roam backyards, destroy gardens and wander into traffic, others have taken what they see as a more humane approach — tranquilizing female deer and removing their ovaries.It’s expensive: The town of Cayuga Heights, N.Y., spent $35,808 to sterilize a dozen does last month. A year earlier, the town spent $148,315 to remove ovaries from 137 female deer. And after the 2012 effort, a survey found an estimated 225 deer — or 125 per square mile — were living in the village, well above the recommended population for suburban communities of 15 to 20 deer per square mile.“In most cases, they are not effective and incredibly expensive,” Kip Adams, director of education and outreach at The Quality Deer Management Association, told of sterilization efforts. “There’s a lot of costs involved and at the same time, there’s a lot of stress placed on the animals. And at the end of the day, in most cases you still have well over 100 deer per mile, which is at least five times higher than the recommended amount.”

    • America’s Pest Problem: It’s Time to Cull the Herd Time Magazine, December 9, 2013
    • Cull of the Wild, New York Times, Dec 30, 2013
    • Hunting Isn’t the Answer to Animal ‘Pests’: State wildlife agencies might want to first try ending their policies of increasing the deer population for no reason other than to kill them, Time, Nov 27, 2013The first step is for state wildlife agencies to stop increasing the population of certain species, especially deer. These agencies are currently funded fully or partially by the sales of hunting and fishing licenses and their mission statements include hunting, both explicitly and under the guise of “recreation,” “use” or “benefit” of the citizens.
    • As deer encroach on Washington suburbs, attitudes about kills shift, Washington Post, Nov 13, 2013
    • Mad Cow Disease of Deer Can be Controlled by Targeted Culling, Long-term Study Finds, Nature World News, Oct 21, 2013
    • Too cute to kill? US split on suburban deer,, Aug 30 2013Seconds after Mike Braun spotted the deer in his headlights his six-day-old car had $8,000 worth of damage, including a punctured radiator.
    • U.S. Lyme Disease Cases Vastly Underreported: CDC, US News & World Report, Aug 19, 2013About 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year, which is about 10 times higher than the number of cases reported each year to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a new report.
    • The Lyme Wars, The New Yorker, July 1, 2013Lyme disease is the most commonly reported tick-borne illness in the United States, and the incidence is growing rapidly. In 2009, the C.D.C. reported thirty-eight thousand cases, three times more than in 1991. Most researchers agree that the true number of infections is five to ten times higher. Although some of that increase is due to heightened awareness, transmission is rising in areas, like New England, where the disease is well established, and is spreading to regions as far south as Florida, through changes in climate and the movements of infected animals.
    • Deer problems, contentious solutions, Washington Post, April 9, 2013Until mountain lions and timber wolves return to the District, Rock Creek Park’s swollen deer herd
      will have to depend on humans to control its numbers. Although deer culling in the park is currently done only with lethal methods, the Park Service continues to examine birth-control options. A birth-contol agent, however, must meet several criteria. It must . . .
      ♦ be federally approved,
      ♦ prove successful for 3 to 5 years,
      ♦ be administered by dart,
      ♦ leave no residue in the meat,
      ♦ have little or no behavioral impact on the deer.

      “No agent exists at present that fully meets all criteria,” said Nick Bartolomeo, the park’s chief of resources management.

    • Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds, by Jim Sterba, New York Review of Books, Feb 21, 2013
    • If we want to protect deer, we need to shoot a few, Washington Post, Dec 14, 2012“The Science of Overabundance,” a Smithsonian book published 15 years ago, asserted that even then, many areas clearly had too many whitetails. The book, written by 42 scientists and wildlife biologists,defined overabundance this way: when deer threaten human life or livelihood, when they depress densities of favored species, when they are too numerous for their own good and when they cause ecosystem dysfunction.
    • Why hunting your own dinner is an ethical way to eat, Eatocracy [email protected], CNN, Sept 2, 2012
    • Why Bambi Must Go, New York Times, Opinion Page, May 18, 2012 Less appreciated, though, is how these millions of deer are quietly eating every palatable leaf within their reach across the eastern forests of North America. That’s very bad news for migratory birds. Migratory warblers generally feed in the treetop canopy, but many treasured species — worm-eating, Kentucky and hooded among them — hide their nests in dense vegetation on or near the ground. Deep in the woods, buffered from suburban predators and rural pesticides, warblers should be able to nest in peace. But they can’t do so when hungry deer have demolished the forest understory.
    • Bambi has Outgrown the Forest, and Alternatives for Control are Elusive, Inefficient or Unpleasant, National Animal Interest Alliance, Jan 1, 2012 “‘People think that as we continue to develop, we squeeze wildlife out of the woods. But that’s not true with deer,’ Davis said. ‘They are among certain species of animal that absolutely thrive in suburbia. They do better in suburbia than they do in a similar size area of virgin woods. We’re actually making conditions better as we develop.’”
    • Growing Deer Population Hurts Survival Of Forests, NPR, by Sabri Ben-Achour, June 15, 2011
    • Md. approves use of deer birth control, Washington Post, May 5, 2011Maryland has become the first state to approve the use of Gonacon, a deer birth control product, but the state’s director of wildlife said Friday he can’t imagine it ever being used in what he termed the open landscape.

      “This is the only immuno-contraceptive for deer that has federal approval,” said Paul Peditto, director of the Wildlife and Heritage Service. “It was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency.

      Peditto said the manpower and expense of applying the birth control chemical will limit its use. “It will cost up to $1,000 to apply it to a deer,” Peditto said. The deer must first be shot via dart gun to tranquilize it before Gonacon can be injected. EPA requires that the deer be tagged so that it can be identified as having been treated. Another tag will state that the meat of the animal should not be consumed by humans.

    • Hardwood forests not regenerating as deer eat maple saplings, Michigan study shows, Science Daily, May 10. 2011In a sweeping study of a huge swath of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, researchers documented that in many places, the sugar maple saplings that should be thriving following harvesting are instead ending up as a deer buffet. This means the hardwood forests are not regenerating.
    • Deer overpopulation taking economic toll, Washington Post, Nov 10, 2010
    • The Case Against Bambi, CNN Money, Nov 2, 2010
    • Oh Deer! Rebounding white-tailed deer in one of the nation’s largest urban parks may be growing so numerous that they threaten their own habitat, National Wildlife Federation, Sept 15, 2010
    • “Munched” describes much of Rock Creek Park—a deer-manicured landscape of towering oaks, hickories and other trees, but far less in the way of shrubs or other vegetation. Any palatable plant under 4 feet tall is fair game for whitetails. Monitoring at Rock Creek indicates that as the deer population has grown, shrub cover has declined by roughly 40 percent. Under such conditions, there is less habitat for a range of wildlife, whether small mammals or shrub-nesting birds like Kentucky warblers. “A lot of these smaller critters that live on the forest floor—chipmunks, shrews, even mice—some of the cover that they would naturally have is gone,” Ferebee says. That leaves the micro mammals more at risk of predation by the park’s owls, hawks and foxes.

    • Taking the ‘Wild’ in Wildlife Seriously, New York Times, July 5, 2010
    • Oh Deer!, Smithsonian,Oct 2005Unlike human hormone-based contraceptives, which prevent ovaries from releasing an egg, PZP causes a female deer to produce antibodies that stick to the egg’s surface. The antibodies block sperm from fertilizing the egg. The drug has to be given directly into the bloodstream, largely because researchers have yet to develop an oral version that can survive a trip through a deer’s digestive system. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration still considers the drug “experimental.” The manufacturer prohibits women, such as McShea’s female co-workers, from handling the contraceptive—nobody knows if it could sterilize them too.
    • Deer eating away at forests nationwide, NBC News, Jan 18, 2005
    • Eating Themselves Out of House and Home, National Wildlife Federation, Oct 1998
    • WHITETAIL DEER BECOMING MAJOR PEST, New York Times, November 27, 1983


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