Deer cull no solution to Lyme disease spread

Selectman Barbara Manners is a brave woman. The struggle for an elected official who sees a conflict between her obligation to the voters and her innate ethical sense is not an enviable one. How refreshing it would be if all of our elected officials could be so honest. Speaking as a physician I would like to reassure Selectman Manners that her decision to oppose a deer cull is the right one scientifically.

Deer "culls" in which deer are baited and then shot at close range have been taking place across the country since the 1990s. The fact of the matter is that killing deer does not reduce either numbers of deer or the incidence of Lyme and other tick borne diseases. Deer cull advocates are quick to point out that reducing deer densities has been shown to reduce tick densities.

But these studies have all taken place either on islands, closed peninsulas or fenced parks. These areas do not resemble the open communities of Fairfield County, including Ridgefield. To date there is not one reported case of a reduction in tick-borne disease incidence in ecologically open communities where deer culling has taken place.

Tick-borne diseases are a serious problem in our communities and there are many approaches to solving them. Killing deer is perhaps the least effective. It is time that the elected officials of our communities start to look at the problem more scientifically.

Marjorie Cramer, MD, FACS