April 28, 2017

Killing Ticks With Foods Laced With Anti-Parasitic Meds

What could possibly go wrong?

I read an article this morning about how in one area of Texas, where a certain tick carries a disease known as cattle fever. The plan, on deer ranches, is to lace the corn being fed to deer, with this anti-parasitic drug. Hmmm.

One small paragraph in the article states: “The use of treated corn or pellets to control internal parasites in deer is not new, as it has been used by deer and exotic breeders for years. It is not currently legal for use on wild deer, although some ranchers advocate that it should be.” (emboldening added)

In my travels I have heard of suggestions similar to this to kill ticks in deer that cause Lyme disease and winter ticks in moose, that can eventually kill a moose by depleting its blood supply. I don’t believe I have ever heard any serious discussion about this within the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

In a related event, those willing to acknowledge that wolves can carry and spread up to 50 different diseases, viruses and parasites, have suggested some kind of “feeding” program that would address the more deadly of the viruses, such as Echinococcus granulosis and Echinococcus multilocularis.

Some of the problems that should be examined thoroughly before any attempt at feeding wild deer and moose medicine-laced foods, is first to have a complete understanding of why there is a problem, where it comes from and how it is spread. We don’t know this information.

In Maine’s case, where Lyme disease is present, and where winter ticks on moose have become a very serious problem for the animal, there is no consensus that can answer any necessary questions. In other words, it hasn’t even been determined if Maine is growing too many moose and in some places, seemingly coincidental to prevalence of Lyme disease, too many deer. Is it responsible to use chemicals in wild deer and moose, simply because we want to see more deer and moose?

There are so many factors that influence diseases, parasites and viruses, the notion to stuff an animal’s food with drugs to supposedly stop one action, might create a firestorm of other problems. Wildlife managers should know these things and if they don’t, it’s time they did.