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calendar   Sunday - March 25, 2007

Virginia Deer

Question: what do you get when you (a) discourage people from owning firearms, (b) only allow hunters to hunt during a brief three-week period in the dead of Winter, (c) enact local ordinances all over the state to make it illegal to discharge a firearm within a hundred miles of any whining Liberal, (d) throw together in the state legislature a set of hunting regulations so obtuse and complicated that a New York lawyer would have a major headache figuring it out, and (e) keep building suburban housing further and further out into wilderness areas?

Answer: you end up ass-deep in antlers invading suburbia and carrying ticks with Lyme disease. Then again, all those little kids who watched “Bambi” back in the 1950’s are now grown and in politics and they’re determined to keep anyone from hurting those pretty little deer. As usual, they never stop to consider the implications of their actions. And if you think the problem is bad in Virginia, take a look at really weird states like Kalifornia and MassaTwoShits. Will they never learn ... ?

In Swelling Herds, A Growing Risk
Larger Va. Deer Population Making Lyme Disease a Public Health Issue
(WASHINGTON POST) - Sunday, March 25, 2007

imageimageA surge in reported cases of Lyme disease in Fairfax County has prompted an outcry from residents who say the lawns and woodlands surrounding their homes are overrun with infected ticks and the deer that carry them.

The exponential increase has also led county health officials to acknowledge that managing Fairfax’s burgeoning deer population, which in some locations has numbered 400 per square mile, is no longer about nuisance control. It has become a serious public health issue that requires immediate attention, they say.

“Deer are the Metro system for the ticks” that carry Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, said Jorge R. Arias, who manages Fairfax’s disease-carrying-insect program. “The ticks are all over the county. Wherever the deer can go, they will take the ticks with them.”

Confirmed cases of Lyme disease, which is characterized by such varied symptoms as a bull’s-eye-shaped rash, fever and fatigue, rose from three in 2004 to 82 in 2006, according to county data. Much of the increase is due to better reporting of a disease that is often quickly treated with antibiotics without being confirmed by blood tests. Still, public health officials say there is little doubt that case numbers are rising locally and nationally.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reported cases rose from 19,800 in 2004 to 23,300 in 2005. Cases remain relatively low in Virginia—274 in 2005 compared with numbers in the thousands in such Northeastern states as Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New York.

But the increase in the Washington region is causing growing concern. Loudoun County claims half of all reported cases in Virginia. In Maryland, Montgomery County has seen confirmed cases grow fivefold since 2004, to 216. And the very neighborhoods where deer are least welcome might be attracting the tick-carrying herds.

“Suburban lots with azaleas and rhododendrons is just like laying out a buffet for deer,” Arias said. “We have created in suburbia what is essentially a perfect habitat for them.” That, in turn, has created the perfect environment for transmitting the bacteria to humans, he said. “The deer population has been out of control for years,” Jakubowski said. “There have been minimal attempts to control it.”

Fairfax launched a deer management program about a decade ago after several traffic accidents involving deer made headlines. The county sponsors managed hunts during the winter months, during which screened applicants participate in a daytime hunt on parkland. Separately, police sharpshooters “cull” herds on overnight expeditions several times a year.

But the results are limited, said Earl L. Hodnett, the county’s wildlife biologist, who noted that most county parks where deer are counted remain far from his goal of no more than 15 to 20 deer per square mile. Officials are limited to parkland where firearms pose little risk to people but where shooters have limited access to deer, which are not constrained by public boundaries. Managed hunts in January and February netted 133 deer. An additional 48 deer have been killed in four sharpshooting events this year.

“We’re starting out with a big problem,” Hodnett said. “There’s no easy way to quickly fix a problem that’s been building since the mid-’80s.” But all agree the problem cannot be erased overnight.

“Eradicating the deer herd is probably not achievable,” said Frey, who counted more than 40 deer on a recent daytime tour of Cub Run Stream Valley Park. “Short of shutting down the parks and hunting 24 hours a day, I’m not sure how much we can do.”


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 03/25/2007 at 08:25 AM   
Filed Under: • Animals •  
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