Monday, December 17, 2012

Lyme Disease/Coyote connections

Mare sent this in a few days ago, but events have kept me from posting it:

Hi Kenny,
As you know, I have been horribly ill thanks to late stage Lyme & other tick diseases. I live in the tick disease capital of the world, Dutchess County, NY. We used to have lots of foxes & bobcats and now we don't, we didn't used to have a lot of coyotes and now we do (actually we have coywolves). Places that have lots of bobcats & foxes but not a lot of coyotes don't have a lot of people getting their lives ruined by tick diseases. The tick diseases weren't bad a few decades ago when there were bobcats & foxes everywhere, but now we are the world leaders in people who've been sickened and crippled by this shit. So I guess what we need in Dutchess County is a bunch of Wirecutters to do something about the coywolve infestation. Maybe you & Charliegoddammit can come to NY some time and kill stuff. ;)
I know you sometimes write about nature and coyote killin', so here's a link to an article about why we need more foxes, bobcats, and Wirecutters, and less damned coyote-wolves so people like me can stop being maimed by these damned money-pit diseases:
Every time I read about coyotes being a problem somewhere, I always think of you killing them. LOL
I hope you are doing OK. Best wishes to you, Miss Lisa, and Charlie, and a Merry Christmas too.
- Mare (Zilla)

Taal Levi has studied environments from Brazil to Alaska. But nothing scares him so much as Dutchess County for its abundance of disease-carrying ticks.
“The nature here is terrifying,” said the wildlife researcher who studied local woodlands for several weeks this summer. “It’s more dangerous to walk around the forest here than it is to walk around the forest in Brazil.”
Dutchess County has consistently ranked among the top counties in the nation for per-capita rates of Lyme disease, caused by the bite of the black-legged tick. Levi, a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow from the University of California at Santa Cruz, believes that where the population of foxes declines, Lyme disease increases. And contrary to popular wisdom, he thinks deer have little to do with the growing menace of what are also — perhaps unfortunately — called deer ticks.
Levi’s work is adding to the deepening understanding of how ecology — and specifically, the interplay between wildlife species — accelerate the spread of infectious disease. Scientists and advocates say that studies like Levi’s that seek to stop the spread of Lyme are underfunded and overshadowed by the debate over how to treat chronic Lyme disease, as reported in Sunday’s Poughkeepsie Journal.

According to Levi’s theory, foxes are indiscriminate and voracious killers of mice and small rodents. Mice are especially good carriers of Lyme disease because their immune systems don’t seem to fight off the pathogen and they don’t remove ticks from their bodies well. By comparison, opossums can remove as much as 96 percent of the ticks on their bodies, Levi said.
Levi used statistical data to show that as fox populations went down, Lyme went up. The statistical connection between Lyme and other species wasn’t as consistent. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in June.
This summer, he tested his theory at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook. Results are pending
Levi believes that the return in the Northeast of coyotes in the last half-century, which prey on foxes, is leading to fewer foxes in some areas, and a resulting increase in Lyme.

This just goes to show the difference between eastern coyotes (coywolves) and western songdogs. Out here, their main diet is rodents and because of that Lyme disease is pretty much non-existant - I don't know of a single individual that has it or knows somebody that has it, yet on the east coast it's fairly common.
East Coast hunters, it's time to step up and whack some coyotes.