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Deer overpopulation is a major contributor to the spread of tick-borne diseases

By Matthew Arnsberger
Posted Sunday, March 1, 2009

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Carrboro, NC - I have been treated for TBD’s five times in the last seven years, though we are not always certain that my symptoms were from tick diseases. Sometimes my doctor put me on antibiotics without doing the tests.

I am a landscaper and work outdoors and am frequently exposed to ticks.

My greater concerns and interest lie in the issue of deer overpopulation. I read up on the issue and talk about it most anytime the subject relates to landscapes (can’t help myself). Deer overpopulation is a major contributor to the spread of ticks and tick-borne diseases, as well a major spreader of microstegium (bamboograss). Deer are devastating our natural areas and ornamental landscapes. Due to their population growth they are eating so much vegetation that many plants are not reproducing. Insects, birds, reptiles and other mammals are suffering due to the loss of food and habitat caused by intense browse pressure from deer. Late winter is a particular bad time of the year as deer have browsed on all of their preferred food plants and are now eating things they normally leave alone, including poisonous plants such as hellebores and mountain laurel. They maybe starving to result to such measures, though I have not seen indications of starvation in the deer around me.

Duke Forest determined that they have deer populations of as much as 80 per square mile and felt that healthy population levels of 12-20 could sustain their forest vegetation - that's four times as many deer as the system can sustain.

I live in Carrboro. Suburban areas such as mine have way too many deer. My clients range through much of southern Orange County and northern Chatham County. Rural and suburban deer are a big problem.The auto is their principle predator with accidents being tramatic to both deer and humans.
I could go on.

I would like to foster discussion on regional responses to deer overpopulation including such topics as contraception, quotas for hunting more doe, bow hunting in suburban areas, maybe even the sale of game meat.

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