Deer Overabundance in Ann Arbor is a Threat to Human Health and Safety

Comments: Bernie Banet December 10, 2014, Deer Management Meeting

Deer caused over 49,000 collisions in Michigan in 2013, 1212 people injured, 12 killed. Many of the 49,000 deer of course were killed or injured in this inhumane method of deer population control. Insurance companies say car crashes cost Michiganders $130,000,000.
In 2013 there were 1,058 reported deer collisions with vehicles in Washtenaw County, 36 involved personal injury and 50 car-deer crashes in the city of Ann Arbor. Neighboring Scio Township has the second highest number of deer crashes in the state. The leading site of deer vehicle crashes in Michigan is Rochester Hills and the county with the most crashes is Oakland County. Are they really a model for us as some propose? Deer crashes occur in many locations in the city and county over the years, as seen on the map in our handout, and it is not clear that signage or roadside vegetation pruning will be effective in controlling them. This is especially so if the herd keeps multiplying as it would if the “do nothing” option in regard to herd reduction is selected.

Another looming threat to human health in our town is Lyme disease, a debilitating tickborne bacterial disease. Other tick-borne diseases are also a threat when the tick population increases. Lyme disease is famously prevalent and dangerous in New England and the Middle Atlantic region of our country but is also found in western Michigan along the Lake Michigan shore, and appears to be advancing toward Washtenaw County. Lyme infests Wisconsin and Minnesota and parts of Ohio, too, so there’s no reason to think we are immune.

It is true that deer do not directly transmit Lyme disease to ticks and deer do not in that sense “carry” Lyme disease. What happens is more complex. Deer host the adult deer ticks, a.k.a black-legged ticks, giving them a blood meal before they lay eggs. In the life cycle of the tick the eggs become larvae which become nymphs and then adults. It is at the tick’s nymph stage that the ticks become infected, usually from a reservoir of the disease bacteria in a small mammal such as a mouse that is their host at that stage of their life cycle. It is also at the nymph stage that the tick typically carries the disease to humans. Because the deer (or more rarely other large mammals) are essential hosts for the adult ticks, reducing the density of the
deer population is a prime public health strategy for preventing Lyme disease.

The State of Michigan Emerging Disease Issues web page http://www.michigan.gov/emergingdiseases/0,4579,7-186-25890_26140-75872–,00.html
states: “Deer supply the tick that transmits the bacterium with a place to mate and provides a blood meal for the female tick prior to production of eggs. Research shows that reducing the deer population in an affected area to a level of 8 – 12 deer per square mile virtually eliminates ticks and Lyme Disease in humans.”

#A2manydeer #wc4eb #realfactsabouturbandeer

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