The state Department of Environmental Management has announced plans to cull the population of Virginia white-tailed deer on Block Island.
The density of white-tailed deer on Block Island is estimated at 80 to 100 per square mile. That’s eight to ten times the desirable level so the state Department of Environmental Management has decided to cull the herd.
The DEM’s Catherine Sparks says they’ll hire professional sharp shooters to kill some of the deer early next year.
But it's no laughing matter, says Tom Mather, resident tick expert at the University of Rhode Island. Fall means the return of disease-carrying deer ticks for a bit before the coldest temperatures finally send them underground. And that means there's still a risk of catching Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.
Block Island Health Service officials say the state Department of Health has agreed to meet with them about the steep increase in Lyme disease on the island. Island officials want the state to take a more active role in fighting the disease.
Block Island Health Services officials say they’ve seen 68 cases of Lyme disease through August of this year. That’s up from 48 for all of the previous year. Health service head Barbara Baldwin says she decided it was time to ask for some help.
The bacteria is called Borrelia miyamotoi, and, like Lyme disease, it hitches a ride in ticks. I'll have more on this in the coming days, but here's a heads up on some of the more unique features of this bug.
This bacteria can cause something like the flu, or a fever that just keeps coming back. You might have had it and not known it, or had it along side Lyme. Common antibiotics can cure it. But if your immune system is already weak, it could lead to some neurological damage.