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#3203566 - 06/28/12 04:35 AM Lyme Disease
Wildlife2 Offline

Registered: 02/28/11
Posts: 0
Loc: USA

June 21, 2012

New Research: Lyme Disease More Closely Tied to Red Foxes Than to Deer

by Scott Bestul

High whitetail numbers have been blamed for the spread of Lyme disease for years. But according to the latest research, we might be pointing our finger at the wrong critter. According to this story in a recent issue of Scientific American, a sharp decline in red fox populations may have gone a long way to making Lyme disease go viral in the last decade.

The red fox, as most of us know, is an efficient predator of small mammals like the white-footed mouse; known to be one of the prime hosts of the Lyme-carrying “deer” tick. Red fox numbers are in a general decline across the country, thanks largely to ever-growing coyote populations. Coyotes eat foxes whenever the populations overlap, which is frequently. Though both canines dine on mice, foxes take the greatest toll on the little rodents. So when fox numbers dive, mouse populations climb and ticks follow suit.

So why have whitetails been getting all the blame for the spread of Lyme disease? Well, deer are another preferred target of ticks, and as whitetail populations boomed in the 1980s and ’90s, we transferred—somewhat righteously—the blame for the illness to them. But when researchers took a new look at the spread of Lyme disease, they found it more closely mirrored the steady rise of coyotes than it did deer. In states like Wisconsin, for example, whitetail populations have been steady or declining for the last decade, while coyote numbers continue to rise. Interestingly, incidence of Lyme disease in the Badger State has risen 280 percent from 1997-2007, according to this story in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, with 2,376 cases reported just last year. To further solidify the link, researchers found that an area in western New York—home to a healthy red fox population—was devoid of Lyme disease.

What to make of all this? First off, we should give ourselves a collective pat on the back; hunter harvest data helped researchers establish these links and take a new look at Lyme disease. Second, if you’re a coyote trapper or hunter, keep doing your thing and help give the red fox a break. And finally, this new research serves as yet another reminder of the inter-connectedness of all wildlife species and the importance of understanding all relationships in the natural world.
Working everyday to protect the private sector NWCO's by decreasing the size of the federal government.

#3203875 - 06/28/12 10:35 AM Re: Lyme Disease [Re: Wildlife2]
Peskycritter Offline

Registered: 02/13/12
Posts: 23
Loc: south east michigan
I know are red fox is way down and there's people getting Lyme here as well . We have been blaming the coyote it could be a combo
Free Trapper

#3204742 - 06/28/12 08:42 PM Re: Lyme Disease [Re: Wildlife2]
bad karma Offline

Registered: 12/23/06
Posts: 3151
Loc: Eastern Shore of Maryland
Well, we have a metric ton of red foxes here and few coyotes. We have more deer than rabbits now.
Lyme disease is nearly epidemic here. The research sounds bogus.
Never argue with a fool - they will drag you down to their level, then beat you with experience.

#3204786 - 06/28/12 09:07 PM Re: Lyme Disease [Re: bad karma]
Phil Nichols Offline

Registered: 10/03/07
Posts: 566
Loc: Chocowinity, NC
Well now, where do mice fit into this metric?

#3205052 - 06/28/12 11:30 PM Re: Lyme Disease [Re: Wildlife2]
Lundy Offline

Registered: 08/19/07
Posts: 522
Loc: North Branch MN
Deer Mice and Chipmunks are the carriers of the Lyme Bacteria. Deer ticks in their first three instar's (growth stages) are very small. These ticks live under leaves where mice and chipmunks forage. That is where the tick picks up the Lyme bacteria. The adult stage tick feeds on larger animals. A pregnant adult can be infected with Lyme bacteria. However, none of her unlaid eggs can have the Lyme bacteria, they must feed on an infected host mouse or chipmunk. Because both mice and chipmunk's are territorial, there is a way to reduce the ticks, in that area, with a tick management system. I know this because I have worked with the scientists that developed the tick management system. You can learn more by searching for Tick Management System. It must be installed by a Certified Pest Management Professional. It is not cheap. Trapping the mice and chipmunks does NOT work! Because they are territorial, when you remove the resident population, more will move in, and chances are they will be infected too. Sorry guy's but this is one time where trapping can do more harm than good. And I must say, I learned at an early age, the only good chipmunk is a DEAD ONE!!!