Did Coyotes Cause Spread of Ticks, Lyme Disease?

by
posted on July 31, 2012
dogs_ah2015_fs.jpg (19)

After Lyme disease reared its ugly head in 1975 and subsequently spread throughout much of the country, it changed how we care for our gundogs. We vaccinate them against the disease. We check them for ticks after every hunt. And we apply monthly tick repellents such as Frontline and Advantix. Yet, if you own enough dogs over the course of enough years, it's likely one or even a few will contract Lyme. And let's not forget that you yourself are susceptible.

The funny thing about Lyme is how little we still know about it. We don't even know for certain how it came about, but it's been assumed that overpopulated deer herds facilitated a boom in the tick population and, therefore, the Lyme epidemic. But a new study out of the University of California-Santa Cruz defies the conventional wisdom, suggesting that the spread of coyotes across the northeastern United States had far more to do with the tick-Lyme boom than deer.

According to the study, the removal of wolves by settlers of the northeastern United States paved the way for coyotes to spread east (wolves do not tolerate coyotes in their territory). And, as coyotes have entered the northeastern United States, which is outside their traditional range, they have in turn taken a toll on red fox populations.

"A new top predator has entered the Northeast and has a strong impact on the ecosystem," study researcher Taal Levi said in a statement. Coyotes kill a lot of foxes and, more importantly, he said, " ... Foxes often don't build dens when coyotes are around."

So, what's this have to do with Lyme? According to the study, fewer red foxes have allowed their favorite foods—namely mice, shrews and chipmunks—to greatly expand their populations. And such rodents are just as susceptible to carrying and spreading deer ticks as deer are.

What do you think? Could it be that the current scourge of Lyme-carrying deer ticks was caused by something other than deer?

Latest

Herman Shooting Hammerli Force B1
Herman Shooting Hammerli Force B1

#SundayGunday: Hammerli Force B1

This week, were checking out the Hammerli Arms Force B1, a hunting rimfire with a target-grade pedigree.

Colorado Cat-Hunting Ban Could be on Ballot in November

A recent report from the NRA Hunters Leadership Forum sheds light on a potential cat problem in Colorado; that is, it’s a problem if you’re a hunter who enjoys and wishes to continue chasing mountain lions and bobcats, or you simply agree that wildlife management should continue to be based on science.

What You Need for Road-Trip Hunts

Planning a long-distance drive to your next hunt? Before you depart, it’s best to think not only about what you may need to help you hunt on unfamiliar ground, but what you’ll need to get you there and back.

First Look: Moultrie Edge 2 and Edge 2 Pro Cell Cams

Moultrie has expanded its Edge series of cellular cameras with two new introductions: the Edge 2 and Edge 2 Pro. 

First Case of Staggering Disease Observed in Colorado Mountain Lion

A brand new study out this week in the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal has unveiled that the rustrela virus—most commonly known for the "staggering disease" it causes—has been found for the first time in a North American mountain lion.

New for 2024: Kent Cartridge Fasteel+ Bayou Blend

Kent Cartridge has announced the launch of Fasteel+ Bayou Blend. This new shotshell is specifically designed for duck hunters as a "Do-It-All Duck Load," combining high-velocity, precision-plated steel shot with advanced corrosion-resistant materials, for lethal patterns and unmatched reliability no matter the conditions.

Interests



Get the best of American Hunter delivered to your inbox.