Ridgefield Deer Committee
Ridgefield Recreation Center
195 Danbury Road
Ridgefield, CT 06877
A meeting of the Ridgefield Deer Committee was held in the Copper Beech Room of the Ridgefield Recreation Center, 195 Danbury Road, Ridgefield, CT 06877 on December 20, 2004 at approximately 7:00 p.m.
The following members were present:
Ms. Sesto chaired the meeting. Three members of the public were present. Nancy McDaniel was present to take minutes.
At the request of Dr. Denesuk with the accord of the members,
Ms. Sesto tabled the minutes until the next meeting.
Welcome & Introductions – Ms. Sesto introduced Kirby C. Stafford III of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station as the state’s leading authority on ticks.
Speaker – Dr. Stafford distributed copies of the “Tick Management Handbook.” He named the major diseases carried by ticks, babesiosis, anaplasmosis and Lyme Disease being the most prominent in Connecticut.
Incidence of Lyme Disease, which peaked in 1998, increased to 23,763 in 2002, although it is estimated that only 10-16% of cases are reported. 4631 cases were reported in CT in 2002, but only 1403 in 2003. Dr. Stafford attributed the decline to the fact that laboratory surveillance was no longer required in 2002. Surveillance will again be required in 2005.
It is speculated that changing landscape patterns account for some of the increase in ticks. In 2000, there were 60% as many forests in the northeast as in the 18th century, an increase from the lowest point in 1800. With more forested land, the deer population increased to an estimated 76,344 in CT.
Deer ticks feed on three hosts as they mature from larvae to nymphs to adults. Mice, which are preferred by the larvae, are the principal reservoirs for the organisms that cause Lyme Disease. The adults feed only on large animals, with the preferred host being deer. The adult female requires a blood meal prior to laying eggs. She lays 1500 eggs after dropping off the host.
Deer tick activity is seasonal, with the peak nymph activity in August and adult activity peaks in the fall. The life cycle takes two years.
Although the Lyme Disease vaccine was taken off the market in 2002, there are preventative measures such as protective clothing and repellent, but they are not universally adopted. Young people aged five to 14 have the highest incidence of Lyme Disease.
The tick secretes a substance that “glues” its mouth to a person and feeds for several days. 72 hours after the original bite, there is a 70-80% risk of infection, so it is important to remove ticks as soon as possible to avoid infection.
There are several ways to control ticks.
1) Habitat or vegetative modifications such as mowing, brush and litter removal, landscape barriers of wood chips and deer-resistant plantings are effective.
2) Spraying with products containing pyrethrins once during the summer tick season and then again in the fall can be helpful.
3) Reducing hosts, e.g., excluding deer with an electric fence, will reduce tick nymphs; however, it is estimated that the deer population would have to fall to eight deer per square mile to break the transmission cycle of Lyme Disease. Dr. Stafford did note that on a property in Bridgeport there was a reduction of ticks that corresponded with the reduction of deer.
Dr. Stafford described two methods of limiting tick population. The first was a four-postered feeding station. The feeding stations filled with corn have paint rollers loaded with pesticide attached. As the deer feed, pesticide rolls off on them and reduces nymphal ticks by 20-70%. The stations cost $450 each, must be serviced with corn and pesticide regularly and may not be used legally during hunting season, which is the height of adult tick activity. Dr. Stafford suggested that they would be best used by a neighborhood association.
The second approach, bait boxes for white-footed mice, was used on Mason’s Island and resulted in a 68% reduction of the tick population in the first year, 98% reduction in the second. The boxes cost $30-35 each and must be replaced twice a year.
Another method, spraying, costs $150-200 per hour.
There is no single clearly successful method for controlling deer population.
The next meeting will be on January 11, 2005 in the Copper Beach Room of the Recreation Center with Os Schmitz presenting.
Ms. Sesto adjourned the meeting at 9:00 p.m.