Playing the Indian Card

Monday, April 16, 2018

Lyme Disease and the Cold, Unsmoking Gun

Vampire Bambi. Screw your bloody tweezers; toss me my assault rifle.

There is currently something like an epidemic of Lyme disease in Eastern Canada. Now why is that? Remarkably, it turns out that the first case of Lyme disease was diagnosed only in 1975. No doubt it was around before that, but rare enough that it did not attract notice. Now it seems to be everywhere.

Yes, of course, it is spread by tick bites. But why are there suddenly so many ticks?

The answer is not obscure. Deer. The ticks that spread Lyme disease live on deer. What is more, reducing the deer population is proven as the best way to reduce Lyme disease.

Lyme and other deer tick-borne diseases can sometimes be reduced by greatly reducing the deer population on which the adult ticks depend for feeding and reproduction. Lyme disease cases fell following deer eradication on an island, Monhegan, Maine and following deer control in Mumford Cove, Connecticut. ...

For example, in the U.S., reducing the deer population to levels of 8 to 10 per square mile (from the current levels of 60 or more deer per square mile in the areas of the country with the highest Lyme disease rates), may reduce tick numbers and reduce the spread of Lyme and other tick-borne disease.

Are we shooting ourselves in the head with our silly romantic notions about ecology and nature? Might it be better to get some hunters out shooting deer instead? And using the otherwise wasted protein?

Sure, deer are cute. But permanently disabling fellow humans is not cute.

The ecologically minded may be incredulous of the idea that there are more deer now in Eastern Ontario than there ever used to be. What about the encroaching of human populations and human civilization?

The reality is the reverse. Forest cover is growing throughout the developed world. Farmland is shrinking. More land is turning back into wilderness.

As human culture develops, less land is needed to sustain the same (or a far better) standard of living. Not long ago, just about everyone in Southern Ontario had to farm. Now only a few can feed all the rest, and export. Subsistence farmland is removed from agricultural production.

More habitat: more critters. All on top of our rapidly growing publicly funded park system.

What about before the arrival of the evil Europeans?

The same considerations apply. Even though the population of Ontario was miniscule at contact—maybe a couple of thousand people in all of Southern Ontario—the early Jesuits reported that the Huron lands were utterly hunted out of any game animals.

Perhaps ironically, any modern Indians who wanted to could probably survive far more easily in Southern Ontario today than they ever could pre-contact, using only traditional methods. At least for a few years, until the game ran out.

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