This month

March 2019

Co-infections in Persons with Early Lyme Disease, Emerging Infectious Diseases, April 2019In certain regions of New York state, USA, Ixodes scapularis ticks can potentially transmit 4 pathogens in addition to Borrelia burgdorferi: Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Babesia microti, Borrelia miyamotoi, and the deer tick virus subtype of Powassan virus. In a prospective study, we systematically evaluated 52 adult patients with erythema migrans, the most common clinical manifestation of B. burgdorferi infection (Lyme disease), who had not received treatment for Lyme disease. We used serologic testing to evaluate these patients for evidence of co-infection with any of the 4 other tickborne pathogens. Evidence of co-infection was found for B. microti only; 4-6 patients were co-infected with Babesia microti. Nearly 90% of the patients evaluated had no evidence of co-infection. Our finding of B. microti co-infection documents the increasing clinical relevance of this emerging infection.

The recent spread of coyotes across North America did not doom deer populations, phys.org, March 20, 2019Coyotes eat deer, but not enough to limit the deer population at a large scale. A new study of deer numbers across the eastern United States has found that the arrival and establishment of coyote predators has not caused the number of deer harvested by hunters to decline.

Oh, Deer! What’s Your Experience?, East Lansing Info, March 16, 2019As I was writing this article, my sons were taking advantage of the relatively warm weather to engage in 2019’s first outdoor nerf battle. Storming into our kitchen, weapon in hand, my eldest child announced, “Call the exterminator! The backyard is full of poop!”

The Rapid Decline Of The Natural World Is A Crisis Even Bigger Than Climate Change, Huffington Post, March 15, 2019A three-year UN-backed study from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform On Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services has grim implications for the future of humanity. “The loss of trees, grasslands and wetlands is costing the equivalent of about 10 percent of the world’s annual gross product, driving species extinctions, intensifying climate change and pushing the planet toward a sixth mass species extinction,” says the report.

DEER POPULATION AFFECTS BIRD POPULATION, Fairfield County, Deer Management Alliance, n.d.The increasing populations of various deer species are edging out bird species in North America, with the white-tailed deer being the species plaguing our region. The decline in forest birds has long been blamed on factors such as disease, loss of habitat, and an increase in the number of animals that prey on bird nests. These factors continue to impact bird populations; however a recent study has focused on the effects of overabundance of deer on birds.
As reported in the October 2005 issue of Biological Journal, the white-tailed deer is overabundant in 73 percent of its range in North America and other deer species are overabundant in 41 percent of their ranges. Because these animals are devouring the forests’ native shrubs and saplings, birds that use the understory for either nesting or foraging for berries, insects, and worms are also being impacted.
The Biological Journal article focused on a study conducted on the Haida Gwaii archipelago in British Columbia that examined the relationship of deer and forest birds on six islands. The study found that birds that relied on the understory of a forest for food or nesting were the most adversely affected. Islands with highest deer density had no fox sparrows, which nest in the understory and no rufus hummingbirds, which forage in the understory. These species were commonly found on the islands with no deer.

As climate continues to warm, study finds several barriers to northward tree migration, Phys.org, March 15, 2019Extensive land development, invasive species and too many deer may make it difficult for tree migration to keep pace with climate change in the Northeast, according to newly published research.
The study, led by Kathryn Miller, a plant ecologist with the National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring Division, and Brian McGill, a University of Maine professor of ecological modeling, analyzed U.S. Forest Service data covering 18 states from Tennessee to Maine.
Earlier studies have raised concern about regional regeneration, but this is the first to document the sheer extent and severity of the problem. “Regeneration debt” is the term to describe this phenomenon.

Three Reasons Our Ecosystem Needs More Deer Hunters, Grand View Outdoors, March 13, 2019Without more deer hunters, deer numbers surge. This cause-and-effect also allows invasive plants to thrive, enables the spread of Lyme Disease and, remarkably, even changes how things sound in the woods.

Chronic Wasting Disease- Occurence, March 13, 2019 rev, CDCAs of March 6, 2019, CWD in free-ranging deer, elk and/or moose has been reported in at least 24 states in the continental United States, as well as two provinces in Canada. In addition, CWD has been reported in reindeer and moose in Norway and Finland, and a small number of imported cases have been reported in South Korea. In Michigan counties: Clinton, Dickinson, Eaton, Gratiot, Ingham, Ionia, Jackson, Kent, Montcalm

Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Approves Statement on the Cause of Chronic Wasting Disease, CWD-INFO.org, March 12, 2019Last week, at the 84th North American Wildlife & Natural Resources Conference, state directors approved a statement entitled Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Statement on Chronic Wasting Disease Etiology during the of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies business meeting. This statement was drafted by leading experts in wildlife disease management and affirms the current scientific consensus that Chronic Wasting Disease, a 100% fatal disease of deer, elk, moose, and reindeer, is caused by a misfolded protein called a ‘prion.’
“We felt that until there was definitive proof otherwise, it was important that the Association go on record as supporting the overwhelming scientific consensus that Chronic Wasting Disease is caused by mutated protein known as prions.”

Woodside HOA to pursue permits for deer culling in neighborhood, Aiken Standard, March 12, 2019It has been estimated that around 600 deer are living in the gated community. A recent vote was held by the Woodside Plantation Property Owners Association (WPPOA) to determine how to handle the perceived overpopulation.
About two-thirds of residents – 1,330 votes – were in favor of harvesting the excess deer. According to an email sent out by the WPPOA, permits for deer herd culling will be sought by the association to thin out the population.


OPW paid sniper €6,000 to kill 60 deer in Phoenix Park, Irish News, March 3, 2019 The Office of Public Works (OPW) paid more than €6,000 for a sniper to kill 60 deer in the Phoenix Park last year.
A total of 16 other deer were euthanised during 2018 due to illness or serious injury, according to the OPW. Car accidents accounted for the deaths of eight deer, while three of the animals were killed by other members of the herd last year. Three deer died from unknown causes during the 12-month period. A spokesperson for the OPW said: “An over-abundant deer population can result in increasing incidence of road traffic accidents and increase the potential role for deer in the epidemiology of specific diseases.”

Bow hunters may be allowed to hunt within Winston-Salem under proposal to allow urban deer hunting, Winston-Salem Journal, March 2, 2019A proposal to allow deer hunting with a bow and arrow in some parts of Winston-Salem is making its way through the corridors of city hall, with a decision on whether to allow it and where possible as early as March.

Distribution, Host-Seeking Phenology, and Host and Habitat Associations of Haemaphysalis longicornis Ticks, Staten Island, New York, USA , Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal, April 2019Haemaphysalis longicornis, an invasive Ixodid tick, was recently reported in the eastern United States. The emergence of these ticks represents a potential threat for livestock, wildlife, and human health. We describe the distribution, host-seeking phenology, and host and habitat associations of these ticks on Staten Island, New York, a borough of New York City. The Asian longhorned tick might feed on a wide range of mammalian and avian hosts, which enables rapid geographic expansion (2,9). In New Zealand, H. longicornis ticks prefer habitat with Dallas grass (Paspalum dilatatum) and rushes (Juncus spp.) (9), plants abundant throughout the Midwestern and southern United States that could provide suitable habitat. In New Jersey, H. longicornis ticks were found in areas with unmowed grass (7), suggesting that these ticks might occupy wider habitat ranges than Amblyomma and Ixodes ticks.

Feb 2019

Saddle River’s first bowhunting season ends with 135 deer culled, NewJersey.com, Feb 27, 2019The borough’s first contracted deer hunting season with United Bowhunters came to a close Feb. 16. The hunt culled 135 deer.

Climate Change Enters Its Blood-Sucking Phase, The Atlantic, Feb 21, 2019Even as Vermont ramped up hunting, however, state biologists to the east, in moose-heavy New Hampshire, saw signs that moose numbers there were leveling off. To find out why, a research team led by the wildlife biologist Pete Pekins of the University of New Hampshire put radio collars on 92 moose cows and calves each year from 2002 to 2005 and tracked them to measure survival rates and habitat use. Amid a stack of findings that seemed perfectly normal, two things stood out: In 2002, the study’s first year, fully half of the calves in the study died in the spring from heavy tick infestations, and the preceding winter had been mild and late in coming, leaving the forest floor free of the snow that usually arrived early in fall, when tick nymphs were looking to attach to wandering mammals. Those two factors seemed to explain New Hampshire’s slowdown in moose expansion.

In 2005, about 200 people ate ‘zombie’ deer meat. Here’s what happened, USA Today, Feb 21, 2019On March 13, 2005, a fire company in Oneida County, New York, fed the meat of a deer that tested positive for chronic wasting disease to 200 to 250 people. Laboratory tests for one of the deer served came back positive for CWD later.
Because little was known about what happens to people who eat infected meat, the Oneida County Health Department monitored the group’s health through a surveillance project. About 80 people who ate the venison agreed to participate.
In a study published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Public Health, researchers found the group had “no significant changes in health conditions.” They did report eating less venison after the whole ordeal. Otherwise, observed conditions, including vision loss, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, weight changes, hypertension and arthritis, were credited to old age.

“Zombie deer disease,” a mad cow-like infection spreading in the US, explained, Vox, Feb 21, 2019A mad cow-like infectious disease that can turn the brains of deer, elk, and moose into “Swiss cheese” is spreading in at least 24 states — and some experts are warning that it could eventually make its way into humans.
Known as chronic wasting disease, the fatal progressive neurodegenerative illness was first identified in the 1960s. Like mad cow, the disease is spread by prions, the zombie-like pathogenic proteins that aren’t alive and can’t be killed. So far, the only evidence scientists have of spread beyond hoofed mammals, like deer, is indirect. In lab experiments, scientists have shown that the disease can spread in squirrel monkeys and mice that carry human genes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. In a yet-to-be-published study, macaques — a primate species that’s genetically similar to humans — that were fed infected meat contracted the disease.

Oh Deer! NJ Seeks Ways to Rein in Surging Deer Population, WNYC.org, Feb 19, 2019Suydam said the problems deer pose to New Jerseyans go beyond putting a crimp in farmers’ profits, and eating individual homeowners’ gardens. Deer also carry ticks, which spread Lyme disease. And conservation groups say they’re eating away the forest understory, which threatens to destroy the habitat of other wildlife. Kelly Mooij with the New Jersey Audubon Society called the shrinking understory a “significant ecological concern.”

Michigan family uses furniture to fend off frantic deer chased into their living room, MLive, Feb 19, 2019A Michigan family was forced to use their kitchen table, chairs and stools to fend off a runaway deer that had entered their home over the holidays.

Experts fear disease turning Michigan deer into ‘zombies’ could one day spread to humans, Click on Detroit, Feb 18, 2018Chronic wasting disease turns deer into so-called “zombies,” and experts are worried it could one day spread to the human population.
The disease has spread to 24 states, including Michigan. The target zone in Michigan is 16 counties in the center and western parts of the state. There have been 60 cases confirmed. No cases have been reported in humans, but many experts believe it’s just a matter of time before that happens. They compare the disease with the mad cow outbreak in the late 1980s in Britain.
To help combat the spread of the disease, baiting or feeding of deer is no longer allowed across Michigan’s lower peninsula.

The sixth mass extinction, explained, The Week, Feb 17, 2019What are the consequences? Potentially enormous. The loss of species can have catastrophic effects on the food chain on which humanity depends. Ocean reefs, which sustain more than 25 percent of marine life, have declined by 50 percent already — and could be lost altogether by 2050. This is almost certainly contributing to the decline of global marine life, down — on average — by 50 percent since 1970, according to the WWF. Insects pollinate crops humans eat. “This is far more than just being about losing the wonders of nature, desperately sad though that is,” the WWF’s Barrett said. “This is actually now jeopardizing the future of people. Nature is not ‘nice to have’ — it is our life-support system.”

Charlottesville to cull deer herd in city parks, WBDJ, Feb 14, 2019The city says it is continuing to work with a wildlife management specialist for the program to manage the deer population in the city. A 2018 initiative was successful, and the Charlottesville City Council approved the program in response to complaints concerning hazardous driving conditions, health concerns from Lyme disease, landscapes impacted by an overabundance of deer and the health of the local herd.

* Deer browsing alters sound propagation in temperate deciduous forests, Plos, Feb 13, 2019The efficacy of animal signals is strongly influenced by the structure of the habitat in which they are propagating. In recent years, the habitat structure of temperate forests has been increasingly subject to modifications from foraging by white-tailed deer which alters vegetation structure and thus the foraging, roosting, and breeding habitats of many species. However, despite a large body of literature on the effects of vegetation structure on sound propagation, we do not yet know what impact deer browsing may have on acoustic communication. We found that sound fidelity, but not amplitude, differed between habitats, with deer-browsed habitats having greater sound fidelity than deer-excluded habitats. Difference in sound propagation characteristics between the two habitats could alter the efficacy of acoustic communication through plasticity, cultural evolution or local adaptation, in turn influencing vocally-mediated behaviors. Reduced signal degradation suggests vocalizations may retain more information, improving the transfer of information to both intended and unintended receivers. Overall, our results suggest that deer browsing impacts sound propagation in temperate deciduous forest, although much work remains to be done on the potential impacts on communication.

The perennial invasion of crows, Michigan Daily, Feb 13, 2019Rapid development in Ann Arbor and other areas of southeast Michigan has led to increasing friction between humans and their animal neighbors in recent years. Coyote attacks on cats and dogs are on the rise in the metro Detroit area. Despite both controversial culls and sterilization efforts, the Ann Arbor deer population has at best plateaued. And every few winters, as the sky darkens, students are left aghast as crows take to the skies over campus.
Every autumn, as other birds fly south for the winter, thousands of American crows make their exodus from the fields and forests of rural Washtenaw County and migrate to Ann Arbor for the winter. Their bodies create a black blanket spread across trees, historic buildings and anything else they can perch on. From the Huron River and Forest Hill Cemetery to North Campus, through Central Campus and the Diag, to the student houses on South Campus, the crows reign.

Recently Added

* WHITE-TAILED DEER IN THE HUDSON VALLEY:History, ecology, and impacts of a keystone species, News from Hudsonia, Fall 2018White-tailed deer are recognized as “key-stone” herbivores that profoundly affect forest structure and succession; when over-abundant, they tend to reduce the numbers of species and individuals of native forest plants and increase the proportion of non-native plants. Where deer abundance exceeds15/mi, tree seedling abundance is reduced in many forest types in the northern US.
Overabundant deer also affect breeding bird communities, invertebrates that depend on understory plants, squirrel populations (which inturn affect bird nesting success), and tick abundance and the prevalence of tick-borne diseases.

Delafield will purchase tower stands to help control deer population, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan 30, 2019In an ongoing effort to control the deer population, the common council on Jan. 21 approved the reallocation of funds in the 2019 Deer Management budget to purchase more hunting stands.

* Update: Chronic Wasting Disease in Area Deer Population, East Lansing Info, Feb 4, 2019Chronic wasting disease, a highly contagious neurological disease affecting deer, elk and moose was first discovered in free ranging Michigan deer in 2015. Since then, 115 white-tailed deer in the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan have tested positive—five were found in Meridian Township and six more deer tested positive for the disease in Eaton, Ingham and Clinton counties. Due to the prevalence of the disease in the region, East Lansing is within the DNR Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone which means it has different hunting regulations than other parts of the state.

Lyme disease on the rise in places it shouldn’t be, NewStat, Jan 4, 2019The CAPC developed the study to investigate regional trends in antibody prevalence to Borrelia burgdorferi, the tick-borne bacterium that causes Lyme disease. The study analyzed the results of more than 16 million serologic test results for B. burgdorferi done on domestic dogs across the United States between January 2012 and December 2016, aggregated by county and month. The analysis revealed evidence that Lyme disease is getting worse in some regions where it’s already endemic, such as Maine, West Virginia, Virginia, and the northern parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin. More problematic, the figures show that it could potentially be spreading to other, nonendemic areas, such as Illinois, Iowa, North Dakota, Ohio, Michigan, and Tennessee.

Ticks that transmit Lyme disease don’t take the winter off, KYWNewsradio, Jan 14, 2019″As long as it’s above freezing, you can get a tick bite,” said Penn State Insect Identification Lab Director Michael Skvarla. Skvarla says black-legged ticks, commonly known as deer ticks, are the ones that transmit Lyme disease. To keep them from making a meal of you, he says to forsake fashion and tuck your pants into your socks.

Oregon clears way for cities to control urban deer populations, KVAL, Dec 20, 2018The program would allow cities to better control urban deer populations. The program would also look at euthanizing deer after the ordinances are passed. ODFW says this would be done by a form of law enforcement.

Tick-Borne Disease: Working Group Supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2018 Report to Congress, Nov 2018
The Tick-Borne Disease Working Group was established by Congress in 2016 as part of the 21st Century Cures Act to provide subject matter expertise and to review federal efforts related to all tick-borne diseases, to help ensure interagency coordination and minimize overlap, and to examine research priorities. The focus of this effort is the development of a report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and Congress on the findings and any recommendations of the Working Group for the federal response to tick-borne disease prevention, treatment and research, as well as how to address gaps in these areas.

“Ticking Bomb”: The Impact of Climate Change on the Incidence of Lyme Disease, Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology, Sept 2018Lyme disease (LD) is the most common tick-borne disease in North America. It is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi and transmitted to humans by blacklegged ticks, Ixodes scapularis. The life cycle of the LD vector, I. scapularis, usually takes two to three years to complete and goes through three stages, all of which are dependent on environmental factors. Increases in daily average temperatures, a manifestation of climate change, might have contributed to an increase in tick abundance via higher rates of tick survival. Additionally, these environmental changes might have contributed to better host availability, which is necessary for tick feeding and life cycle completion. In fact, it has been shown that both tick activity and survival depend on temperature and humidity. In this study, we have examined the relationship between those climatic variables and the reported incidence of LD in 15 states that contribute to more than 95% of reported cases within the Unites States. Using fixed effects analysis for a panel of 468 U.S. counties from those high-incidence states with annual data available for the period 2000–2016, we have found sizable impacts of temperature on the incidence of LD. Those impacts can be described approximately by an inverted U-shaped relationship, consistent with patterns of tick survival and host-seeking behavior. Assuming a 2°C increase in annual average temperature—in line with mid-century (2036–2065) projections from the latest U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA4)—we have predicted that the number of LD cases in the United States will increase by over 20 percent in the coming decades. These findings may help improving preparedness and response by clinicians, public health professionals, and policy makers, as well as raising public awareness of the importance of being cautious when engaging in outdoor activities.
The major reservoirs for B. burgdorferi are birds and small mammals such as mice and chipmunks. While deer are not competent hosts for B. burgdorferi, they are essential for the I. scapularis life cycle. The tick I. scapularis has three stages of development: larva, nymph, and adult tick. In North America, the life cycle of I. scapularis takes approximately two years to complete [9]. Egg laying usually begins in May; hence, larvae are the most abundant during the summer. These larvae feed on small mammals such as the white footed mouse during summer, at which point transmission of B. burgdorferi occurs. As the winter approaches, the tick larvae enter a dormant stage in which they stay throughout the winter. In the beginning of the spring of the second year, the larvae that survived the winter mold into the next stage of tick development—nymph. During the spring/summer of the second year those nymphs seek suitable hosts for feeding, including humans. Following a bloody meal, the nymphs mold into adults. If an adult tick survives the winter, it will seek another host (usually a large mammal such as deer) on which it will feed and be able to lay eggs. At that point the two year life cycle is completed.

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