BROOKLYN, New York -- Over the weekend, the New York Times ran an article about the accelerating spread of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses on Nantucket. We have blogged about this disease in the past, and its (alleged) origin in an offshore military research laboratory. Most people I tell this story to are incredulous and don't believe any of the links between Lyme disease and Plum Island, but I again implore you to read Michael C. Carroll's Lab 257.
Personally, I think that deer should be eradicated from the island. They are not native to Nantucket, but were introduced in 1922, a time when deer were quite rare in the northeast. Now we have no shortage of deer, and an aggressive culling and birth control program would do wonders to reduce the danger of tick-borne illness to the island's human residents. Nobody needs to go around blasting the island to pieces killing 2,500 deer, but the visitors have outlived their usefulness.
Other islands have experienced a similar deer tick menace, such as Fire Island, off the coast of Long Island, which has "the highest concentration of deer ticks of any National Park area in the Eastern United States." This problem is often exacerbated by people feeding deer (as insane as that sounds). Said one Nantucket resident who opposes efforts to control the deer population, "I really love the deer, and I can’t help it. My mother took me to see ‘Bambi’ when I was little." Well, my mother took me to see "Lady and the Tramp," but that does not make it okay for me to spread garbage all over my front lawn to attract stray dogs, which I also really love.
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