When I contracted Lyme disease in Maryland 15 years ago, I wrote about my experience in NRA Publications to help increase awareness of the disease within the hunting community. When you consider the rise in deer populations throughout the East since then—and and the fact we hunters tend to spend our free time in the woods—the threat remains very real. Scientists now say one way to combat Lyme is through urban deer culls.
Scientists with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Wildlife Division recently published a 13-year study involving two areas in Connecticut where urban culls were highly effective in slowing the spread of Lyme. When hunting decreased deer populations from 8 to 5.1 animals per square mile, residents reported an 80 percent decrease in cases of Lyme.
One of the co-authors behind the study, Howard Kilpatrick, explained there now are only two or three reported cases of Lyme disease a year compared to 10 times that number when deer populations were at their peak. He attributed much of that change to bowhunting season in the two communities.
Of course, the study points to what we hunters already know: that hunting is a necessary wildlife management tool that can be one of the best ways we’ve got to thwart the most common tick-borne disease in North America. Moral of the story: Be a backyard bowhunter!