Culling deer won’t reduce Lyme disease

Re: “Oak Bay faces deer dilemma,” letter, June 15, and “Saanich needs to move on deer solution,” letter, June 18.

According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, there is no evidence to support an epidemic of Lyme disease in B.C. The rates of human cases of Lyme are less than one per 200,000 per year. Culling deer does not reduce Lyme disease occurrence.

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In B.C., we have three tick populations: the winter tick, the Rocky Mountain wood tick and the western black-legged tick. Only an expert can be relied upon to identify most ticks accurately.

The one concerning us is the western black-legged tick, a three-host tick. That means it can live on three animals during its lifespan. In its immature stage, it can live on lizards and mice; in its mature stage, it can live on dogs, deer, horses and humans. A research paper from the Lyme Disease Association of Ontario informs us that 42 species of wild birds can carry the western black-legged tick. Because birds can travel over a broad geographic area in their migratory routes, they can be much more efficient in dispersing the ticks than any mammal.

So, unless we want to eradicate all small mammals as well as the songbird population, our dogs and horses and the deer, we will have to learn to tolerate the western black-legged tick and take the usual necessary precautions to avoid contracting the very rare occurrence of Lyme disease.

Val Boswell


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