Another early morning...but no bloodwork today. I'm off to Norwood for some LL Bean kayak training (all day.)
Today, we're going into PSA mode. Every now and again, I'll post a friendly reminder or two about something I think is important. Since I'll be heading down to camp in the danger zone myself next weekend....today it's Lyme disease.
Let's face it; ticks are icky to begin with. The fact that they often carry disease just makes them all the more so.
There's been a significant breakout in and around the Blue Hills of Massachusetts these past few weeks. Blue Hill Reservation is the largest preserved green space within 10 miles of downtown Boston; there's hundreds of miles of trails, dozens of hills, and a Boy Scout camp. It's immensely popular among locals and visitors alike.It's also overrun with disease-ridden deer.
There's been a growing call among the residents to open the reservation to some form of hunting. It probably makes a good deal of sense; the deer are protected within the reservation, but the reservation itself is actually too small to support their natural predators. Which would leave the task to man. Of course, some are opposed.
Boston -- They carry Lyme disease and eat trees, shrubs and plants in forests and in yards. Now state agencies are taking a look at controlling the growing deer population in one of the most overrun areas in Massachusetts.
An area inside Blue Hills Reservation may look like nothing more than a bunch of dried out, broken plants, but Tom O'Shea of the Division of Wildlife and Fisheries said it's been ravaged by an overpopulation of deer that feed on the vegetation.
"The forest loses the ability to regenerate itself, and a lot of younger forest might not regenerate and come up," said O'Shea.
Now the state's Department of Conservation and Recreation, which owns Blue Hills, is considering a controlled hunting program to bring down the deer population. The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is advising them.
"We know that in general in this region of the state, eastern Massachusetts, deer populations are higher than goal. And when you have a large area without hunting access, you have a good likelihood of a very high deer population," said O'Shea.
Denny Swenson lives in nearby Canton. Her home borders the Blue Hills Reservation.
"I've had Lyme disease twice, my husband had it twice, many of my neighbors have had it," said Swenson.
At a recent town meeting, residents from Milton and Canton discussed deer control, believing the region was suffering from an epidemic of Lyme disease. In nearby Dover, bow hunting to control the deer population began last October.
"It seems that the healthiest approach is to cull the population down to a healthy level, and that's for the health of the deer, the community and ecology and forestry," said Swenson.
But the Massachusetts Society For The Prevention of Cruelty To Animals says strategies should be used that are "humane, effective and long lasting," and that deer hunting isn't an effective way to successfully reduce the deer population.
"The deer are used to being hunted by animals or people. It's part of their evolution," said O'Shea.
"They're beautiful, graceful animals," said Swenson. "It's heartbreaking that this is the best solution. But based on all the experts, this is unfortunately the only effective management program," she said.
The Department of Conservation and Recreation emphasizes they are only studying the possibility of deer hunting in and around Blue Hills. There are other solutions on the table, including fencing.
I wonder how much of this is NIMBYism? While some parts of the reservation are quite isolated, other parts feature multi-million dollar homes abutting the woods, no doubt built there especially for the "ambience" of living in a luxury home in the forest. But I digress.
If you're headed outdoors, there's a couple of things you can do. Wear those long pants, roll your socks over them (or wear gaiters) and liberally apply the ol' DEET. (I know it's icky; I could write an entire blog about that toxin, too. But it's the only one that works. You decide if the risks are worth it.) Despite all the handbooks showing ticks happily embedded on your arm, they tend to prefer darker and warmer areas. Make sure you conduct a thorough inspection after you get back indoors. Bring a friend, if necessary.
(Eep. I sound like a commercial today, don't I? Well, it's important stuff; don't get Lyme disease, it'll ruin your day!)