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Medfield Selectmen Support Plan to Control Deer Population; Reduce Lyme Disease

Christine Kaldy, Chairman of the Lyme Disease Study Committee, said they will continue efforts to educate residents on lyme disease and begin a "controlled hunt" by bow and arrow program.

The Board of Selectmen has approved a proposal by the Lyme Disease Study Committee to try to control Medfield deer population and resulting high rates of lyme disease.

“The selectmen gave them the authority to proceed with the play so hopefully we will start to have fewer deer in town and less incidences of lyme disease as a result of it because we just have way too much lyme disease in Medfield,” said Osler "Pete" Peterson, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen.

“We will continue and expand our educational efforts on how to protect oneself from ticks and tick bites as well as on how to recognize lyme disease,” said Christine Kaldy, Chairman of the Lyme Disease Study Committee.  “We will continue and expand education about the means to make tick safe zones on personal property and recreational properties in town.  We will be starting a program to manage the deer population in town by strictly regulated and monitored bow hunting on appropriate state, town and privately held lands.” 

 The “controlled hunt” by bow and arrow has proven to be an effective way to decrease a high deer population like that in Medfield, said Sonja Christensen, a deer biologist and project leader with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, at a public forum organized by Kaldy in February.

 Christensen said that successful culls have also taken place in neighboring Dover as well as Acton, Andover, Boxborough, Braintree, Brewster, Concord, Duxbury, Lincoln, Marshfield, Stow, Sudbury, and Wilbraham.

 Christensen said there is no “silver bullet” to reduce the number of deer or Lyme disease incidents in Medfield but added, “From a biological perspective, what we can say is – decreased deer equals decreased tick population equals decreased risk of infection.”

 According to the Center for Disease Control, blacklegged ticks (which carry the disease) live for two years and have three feeding stages: larvae, nymph, and adult. Tick eggs are laid in the spring and hatch as larvae in the summer. Larvae feed on mice, birds, and other small animals in the summer and early fall. When a young tick feeds on an infected animal, the tick takes bacteria into its body along with the blood meal, and it remains infected for the rest of its life.

After this initial feeding, the larvae become inactive as they grow into nymphs. The following spring, nymphs seek blood meals in order to fuel their growth into adults. When the tick feeds again, it can transmit the bacterium to its new host. Usually the new host is another small rodent, but sometimes the new host is a human. Most cases of human illness occur in the late spring and summer when the tiny nymphs are most active and human outdoor activity is greatest. Adult ticks feed on large animals, and sometimes on humans.

In the spring, adult female ticks lay their eggs on the ground, completing the life cycle. Although adult ticks often feed on deer, these animals do not become infected. Deer are nevertheless important in transporting ticks and maintaining tick populations.

 The Lyme Disease Study was appointed by the Board of Selectmen in July 2010 to learn the best way to reduce the incidents of Lyme disease and to make a recommendation to the Board of Selectmen.  For more information, contact the selectmen’s office at (508) 359-8505 ext 641. 

Natalie Jarnstedt April 26, 2011 at 04:24 PM
Yes, there IS a way of getting rid of Lyme disease, and it's NOT hunting. The tick! It doesn't matter how many small mammals and birds carry the spirochete bacterium, WITHOUT ticks to transfer the bacterium to others, animal or human, there would be no Lyme disease! Reducing deer merely works in the immediate aftermath of killing them, but they will rebound to the same number or more for the following year! Yes, there are studies to prove this!
Dan Beyer April 26, 2011 at 08:27 PM
Controlled hunting is the most cost effective and safest way to reduce high deer densities and with lower deer densities there are lower tick related i.e. lyme disease reportings. If you are interested in interviewing a hunter to assist in deer management on your property we invite you to visit www.FindAHunter.com Select a state and see hunters in your area. Request that the deer is processed and also donated to help those in need at various soup kitchens and local non profits. www.findahunter.com
Natalie Jarnstedt June 12, 2011 at 11:34 PM
Dan Beyer is wrong; when you're a hunter, killing is the only answer, of course! Interviewing a hunter about deer management would be funny, if it weren't so wrong! Hunting may be cost effective in reducing deer temporarily, but it's not effective in controlling lyme ticks! Does Dan consider everyone to be stupid? Could he possibly be suggesting an absurdity that when deer die, all ticks also die? NO! Ticks leave a dead deer like rats leave a sinking ship! Therefore, my previous comment on truly getting rid of Lyme Disease is to kill the black-legged ticks before they transmit the spirochete bacteria, or even before they get to those small mammals that carry the bacteria!
Ralph Palmer June 13, 2011 at 08:32 PM
More deer are taken by cars than by hunters in Medfield. The deer population exploded when hunting on town land was banned and no hunting is allowed on the large amount of Trustee land. Allowing bow hunting is no panacea. Bow hunting is hard and takes about 80 hours in a stand to get a clean shot. Natalie gives the standard response who thinks Disney's Bambi movie is reality and meat comes wrapped in plastic at the grocery store. The increase in deer population has caused the increase of the coyote population along with the increase of Lyme disease. I got Lyme disease 6 years ago and believe me it is not fun. I encourage people to do more research on this. Reducing the deer population is a step in the right direction, the ticks need a host to live
Natalie Jarnstedt June 13, 2011 at 11:57 PM
I'm sorry you had LD, but you're barking up the wrong tree; the sooner researchers admit that getting rid of ticks is the real answer, the sooner LD will be under control! No, reducing deer populations has NOTHING to do with fewer blacklegged ticks, and ANY mid-sized mammal can & will serve as host, it need not be deer! When deer are killed, those ticks will merely attach themselves to the remaining deer! That means that although deer have been killed, there are still the same number of ticks! One need not be Mr. Spock to understand this logic! Check out higher LD incidences in Windham County where there are fewer deer per sq/mi than in Fairfield County with higher deer numbers!! Hunting does NOT reduce deer populations, it spurs reproduction by causing 38% twinning/tripling vs. only 14% in non-hunted herds -resulting in the same number of deer or even more after all the births! Although I fail to see the shrink-wrapped supermarket meat connection, I'd think you'd be happy with more coyotes to kill deer....hmmm, no logic there at all!
Natalie Jarnstedt June 14, 2011 at 12:02 AM
Did you know that DEP senior wildlife biologist Howard Kilpatrick concluded in his 2001 published abstract that hunting does not reduce deer populations? See http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/pdf/10.1139/z01-057, “All deer at BP [Bluff Point] exhibited a decrease in home range size as deer densities decreased [i.e. were hunted], whereas the control group of deer which were exposed to no population reduction efforts [i.e. were NOT hunted], maintained the same densities and same home range sizes during this same time period.” However, you must realize that the official DEP position must be that hunting keeps deer herds stable, or else they’d be out of their jobs!

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