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Debbie Hadley

Deer Feed Stations Provide Effective Tick Control

By April 2, 2009

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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, a feeder designed to transfer an acaricide to the animal's head and neck.
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.

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April 2, 2009 at 1:59 pm
(1) PSYL says:

What an excellent device!

April 9, 2009 at 8:06 am
(2) edita says:

I can’t believe this is a practical way to control tick populations. Surely the effort installing the rollers, & of replenishing the corn and the pesticide makes it incredibly labor intensive, and only suitable for areas with extensive land management funds. On my own property I use Damminix tick tubes (www.ticktubes.com), which kill potentially threatening ticks by treating the field mice which are far more likely bring ticks into human habitats than deer.

April 22, 2009 at 12:13 pm
(3) Matthyew Jayson Fritch says:

That is very interesting!

May 1, 2009 at 5:51 pm
(4) Bubba says:

The Gibson Island situation has many unique elements.

First, they do have a deer problem and it doesn’t just go away by treating ticks. They have at times removed deer lethally.

But second, they had a special situation where there was not much infection of their ticks by Lyme disease. Further, the most common Lyme-related tick (ixodes scapularis, a/k/a black-legged tick, a/k/a deer tick) was not the predominant tick on the island. Rather it was the Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum). Moreover, they are more likely to get Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness (STARI), similar to Lyme but not identical.

There are only about 180 houses on the island, all worth $1 million and above. Since the 4-posters are expensive to buy and take some effort and expense to maintain, this is fortunate, as they can surely afford it.

April 2, 2013 at 6:08 pm
(5) Guy says:

The 4 poster thing rolls pesticide on the deer while they eat corn from the tray. The pesticide is absorbed and stays in the deer’s fat cells. The ticks feed off the deer and dies.
The pros: less Lyme disease being spread to humans.

The short term: Results will prove great. The tick population will drop dramatically.

The cons: I see a dependency issue with the feeders. I see a problem with the introduction of pesticides to wild animals. Deer especially. If the pesticide is stored in the fat tissue of deer, this poses a problem to hunters who will now ingest the pesticide when consuming the meat. Not to mention natural predators, like wolves and coyote ,and scavengers like buzzards and vultures.
What are the side effects? How is the pesticide metabolized by these animals? How about humans? Birth defects? mutations? What long term effects will the pesticide have on the environment?
Would there be a problem with eggs of the birds that eat the meat of the treated deer becoming more fragile, like the problem with DDT?
More unhealthy deer in the population, thus throwing off the balance of the population where tick borne infection may otherwise keep?
Way too many questions. Way too many unknowns. In my opinion the solution does not appropriately treat the problem.

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