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Pink Deer and TBID Prevention 04/23/2012

Posted by thetickthatbitme in Media.
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2 comments

We all know (I hope) that an ever-increasing deer population means an ever-increasing tick population. We may not be able to stop the deer from multiplying (although I hear some are trying with bowhunting), but can we stop the ticks?

pink deer

Fairfax Wildlife Biologist Vicky Monroe displays the day-glo pink pesticide that will show up on deer and any other animal who visits the county’s new feeders. Image via The Washington Post.

A March 26 article in the Washington Post describes a study the Fairfax County (Virginia) Wildlife Biologist’s Office (in collaboration with the county’s Disease Carrying Insects Program) is undertaking in which deer are attracted to feeders with corn and simultaneously treated with permethrin, a tick-killing pesticide.  The twist? The pesticide has been dyed pink to allow for easier tracking of the deer. Fairfax County residents can expect to see not only pink deer, but also squirrels, raccoons, birds, and any other fauna that stop by for a snack.

How will this aid research on and prevention of tick-borne illness? Washington Post’s Tom Jackman explains:

On a couple of days every other month for the next three years, the pink deer will be harvested (or “killed,” in non-wildlife biologist terms) and autopsied. Deer organs will be tested and the remaining ticks will be sent to a lab for detailed analysis

Thus, the pink deer study will help the Fairfax County Wildlife Biologist’s office determine how effective the feeder-application of the pesticide is in killing disease-carrying ticks on the deer.

The study is costing the Fairfax County Health Department $380,000. For those in the county who have been affected by tick-borne infectious diseases (TBIDs), I’m sure this is not too high a price.

Would you support programs like this in your community? What is your county doing to control the vector population and prevent TBIDs?

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