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Have Lyme disease-carrying ticks found a new host?

0 2 years ago

A recent study proposed a connection between an increase in the black bear population and a higher prevalence of black-legged ticks, colloquially known as the deer tick, which spreads Lyme disease. Researchers from Penn State examined this spike in Pennsylvania, which coincided with a growth in its population of black bears.

Here in the Hudson Valley, the black bear population has also risen precipitously in recent decades.

Jeremy Hurst, the wildlife biologist at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), says the DEC tracks New York’s black bear population estimates based on how many bears hunters “take” in a hunting season. Data show that from the mid-1990s to 2015, the number of bears taken by hunters in the southern portion of the state, which includes the Hudson Valley, went from under 200 to over 1,000 per hunting season, indicating a sharp rise in the overall bear population.

More bears roaming where there are also more people living (like in the suburbs) can result in other conflicts, like bears getting into rubbish and birdseed and being involved in auto crashes.

To better manage the bear population and mitigate those subsequent problems, the DEC opened up bear hunting statewide starting in 2014. “It appears to have stabilized the bear population,” Hurst says of the measure.


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