An environmentally friendly deer feeding station developed by the USDA Agricultural Research Service can reduce tick populations by up to 77%, according to a new study.
Ticks can carry diseases that infect humans and animals alike. In the northeastern U.S., the blacklegged tick is a known vector of Lyme disease, and the lone star tick transmits the pathogen that causes human monocytic ehrlichiosis. One community in Gibson Island, Maryland installed the USDA deer stations, hoping to reduce their populations of disease-carrying ticks.
A buck feeds from a plastic 4-poster. The design of the device causes the buck to tilt its head toward the application rollers, ensuring that Tickicide is transferred to its head, neck, and ears.
Photo: USDA ARS/Wayne Ryan
The patented feeders, called the "4-Poster" Deer Treatment Bait Station, use four paint rollers to apply tick killer to the head, neck, and ears of deer as they feed on corn placed in the feeding tray. Tick counts on Gibson Island, Md., showed that the treatment annually achieved at least 77 percent control of both tick species, compared to pretreatment years.
The deer stations may be the best alternative to traditional outdoor treatments for ticks, which require the application of pesticides across large areas.