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Nantucket Locals Ticked Off at Deer

Residents blame population for upswing in tick-borne diseases
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2009 1:07 PM CDT
Nantucket Locals Ticked Off at Deer
This file photo of a female deer tick seen under a University of Rhode Island microscope in the entomology lab.   (AP Photo/Victoria Arocho, File)

When the first deer landed on Nantucket in 1926, cheering crowds greeted them. But as a vicious trio of tick-related diseases devastates the island, many say the Bambis have overstayed their welcome, the New York Times reports. “The numbers of tick-borne diseases are so off the graph, and it all comes back to the deer,” one official says. Residents remain divided over a controversial proposal to eliminate ticks, which feed on deer blood, by allowing more deer hunting.

Nantucket has noticed a recent upswing in Lyme disease, and the less common but potentially fatal babesiosis and ehrlichiosis. Measuring the number of infected is difficult, because thousands visit just for the summer, and one infected man insists people refuse to discuss the issue because they’re worried about hurting property values. Several experts want increased hunting, but one opponent, whose husband is infected, remains defiant: “I really love the deer. My mother took me to see Bambi when I was little.”
(More deer stories.)

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