Commentary: Deer Get a Bum Steer
Incorrectly, and all too often, we associate the risk of contracting Lyme disease with an area’s deer population. Mostly because the blacklegged tick or Ixodes scapularis is more commonly known as the deer tick. Having this nomenclature association distracts us from the bigger problem: the white-footed mice, birds, etc.
Certainly deer can be a juicy steak/venison meal for a ravenous tick, but so are all the other warm blooded mammals and birds that inhabit the forests and grassy areas. If we drop our guard and become too complacent because of the lack of deer in an area, we increase our risk and exposure to the disease.
It is also important to be aware that pets attract Deer ticks as readily as deer do. And since they easily transport the parasites into your home the threat can be greater. Once transported in your home, they drop off your pet and can disappear into the carpets and upholstery where they are difficult to find unless already gorged. If you should be so unfortunate, an adult tick can lay about 3000 eggs and live for approximately two years.
In the meantime, deer will continue to get a bad rap for the poorly nicknamed ticks. It is also important to recognize that eradicating the tick issue would take substantially more than culling the entire deer population; we would also have to go and rid the entire area of all warm-blooded creatures which is irrational and irresponsible. Destroying our ecosystem would be like cutting off your nose…
A tick in time, saves Lyme