It’s no secret that tick populations are high in the Ozark Mountains. These abundant parasites can carry STARI, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and a variety of other diseases that are harmful to humans and wildlife. If you can remove an imbedded tick before it’s been on you for 24 hours, you should be fine. But unlike us, a deer can’t remove many of the ticks on their body. In the past we’ve hoped to reduce the amount of ticks through burning. While prescribed burns are an important habitat management tool, they did not noticeably reduce the ticks in burnt areas. We suspect this is because most of our prescribed fires are 50 acres in size or less. When new vegetation flushes it’s very attractive to deer and ticks from these deer rapidly repopulate the area.
Because of this, the GrowingDeer Team is starting a new experiment to see if we can reduce the number of ticks on deer (and us) at The Proving Grounds.
Recently, one of our clients had tremendous success with a feed called Antler-X-Treme. It has a proprietary mix of garlic and other natural ingredients that have been shown to keep ticks from staying imbedded in a deer. If this product works as well on The Proving Grounds as it did for our client, we could see higher fawn survival and up to a 15% increase in antler size!
Tyler, the other spring intern, and I have started feeding Antler-X-Treme at nine locations and we’re excited to see if the deer have fewer ticks compared to previous years (based on trail camera images, etc.). The project is off to a great start as deer started consuming the feed the first night it was available! I’m looking forward to sharing our results with you.