A 13-year study proves bowhunting deer in urban areas reduces Lyme disease.
Mumford Cove and Groton Long Point are towns in Connecticut that are not well-known for anything particular. However, both towns have recently become popular among biologists and natural resource agencies due to their bowhunting deer programs.
Between 1995 and 2008, both towns allowed regulated bowhunting for deer inside urban boundaries. Simultaneously, the residents of both towns were surveyed regarding deer densities, tick encounters and Lyme disease cases. Deer were reduced from approximately 80 per square mile to 13 per mile. Tick abundance was reduced 76 percent while reported cases of Lyme disease were reduced by 80 percent.
Jay McAninch, the CEO of Archery Trade Association said, “This is a shot in the arm for urban bowhunting. This is the proof we’ve long needed to make a strong case for science-based hunting and bowhunting programs to reduce Lyme disease.” McAninch went on to say, “Reducing deer numbers is never easy for a community because it’s an emotional decision that requires leadership and perseverance.”
The research found that when deer numbers decline, adult ticks have fewer places to eat and so their numbers decline. Without a lot of deer available, tick populations can’t be sustained, according to the research conclusions.
“Nymphal tick numbers on lawns and in wooded plots declined by the second and third year following initiation of the controlled hunts,” the researchers wrote.
The study noted that strong support from community leaders for long-term bowhunting deer programs aimed at reducing deer populations are necessary to have the desired impact on tick populations. Long seasons, unlimited tags and use of food attractants are all necessary elements of a successful strategy.