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GRANT: This week at The Proving Grounds we take a look at the predator that’s by far the most numerous and the smallest.
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GRANT: It’s a good conservation practice to monitor and balance the predator and prey populations. We’ve shared with you several episodes in the past how we monitor and trap coyotes, raccoons and other predators.
GRANT: There is a predator that drastically outnumbers coyotes in many parts of the whitetails’ range.
GRANT: This predator causes way more harm to humans than coyotes ever thought about.
GRANT: Of course, I’m talking about ticks.
GRANT: We know from trail camera pictures and working out in the field, there are a lot of ticks here at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: To get a feel for just how many ticks there are and what impact they might be having on deer – especially newborn fawns – this morning, Calvin and Josh used a couple techniques to monitor tick populations in one of our bedding areas.
GRANT: We’re in a large bedding area – sanctuary area – at our farm near Branson, Missouri. And it’s grown up with brush and all kind of native grass and forbs. Great feeding and great cover area. But do we think about how many predators are in this area?
GRANT: This morning I had the interns come out with white pants and then white flannel on a stick to give us just an index for measure of how many ticks are in this area.
CALVIN: Josh and I are gonna do two different methods for sampling in this bedding area behind us. Josh is gonna probe around with a white flannel on the end of a stick to resemble a deer browsing. I’m gonna walk through this bedding area wearing these white pants collecting ticks with masking tape as they collect on them.
GRANT: Calvin walked through one of our bedding areas that we know a lot of does use as a fawning area with some white sweatpants on, while Josh put some white material on the end of the stick and poked around the bushes just like a deer that was selecting those choice bits of forage.
GRANT: Ticks aren’t attracted to movement or something like that. They’re attracted to what we exhale, carbon dioxide.
GRANT: Another common question I receive is, “Isn’t there some kind of treatment or medication we can use to remove ticks off of wildlife?” Currently, there are no medications licensed to use on wild, free ranging animals to remove ticks in the United States.
GRANT: The best prescription is prescribed fire. It’s not so much the actual fire raging through here that will kill ticks, although it would probably burn up some that are up on high vegetation like this, but the fire, of course, will turn this area black and will remove all the moisture from the area. And that period of time, when it’s black and there’s not much moisture and the sun’s shining down, will kill millions of ticks because ticks must have moisture to survive.
GRANT: If you’re in an area that has a high tick density, a rotation of prescribed fire every one to three years is the best recipe to reduce that tick density.
GRANT: Oh yeah. There, you gettin’.
CALVIN: Yeah, on me, at least.
GRANT: There you go. Make you a new one.
GRANT: And literally on the first pass, in less than ideal conditions – it’s raining, the pants are getting wet, Calvin with white pants had approximately 150 ticks in the first three or four minutes of walking through the bedding area.
GRANT: And then there’s one right here. And one right here.
GRANT: Now think about a newborn fawn – four to six pounds – laying in one spot for approximately two weeks inhaling and exhaling the whole time, building a large area of carbon dioxide around that fawn; drawing ticks from 10, 20, even 30 yards research has shown. Think about hundreds of ticks coming at that little fawn. And many fawns won’t survive that tick load.
GRANT: Lyme disease is the most common disease ticks transmit to humans. In fact, in 2012, the Centers for Disease Control listed Lyme Disease as the 7th most notable disease in North America.
GRANT: Clearly ticks and tick-borne diseases are not to be taken lightly – especially for those of us that enjoy being outside.
GRANT: Fear of ticks is not gonna keep me and my family from going outside and enjoying Creation. We use a permethrin based tick repellant and it’s derived from the naturally growing plants. We simply treat the clothes we’re gonna be using outside. We don’t treat our clothes while we’re wearing them, which means treating your clothes, but not your body – allowing them to dry and that treatment will last while your clothes are laundered several times.
GRANT: I hope you have a chance to get out and enjoy Creation this week, but most importantly, take time to slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.
GRANT: Ooo, there’s some great plant diversity out here.