Canton and Milton Residents Highlight Lyme Disease Concerns

Healthy populations of deer mean that deer populations are about 10 deer per square mile. According to Sonja Christensen from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, the deer population in the Blue Hills is closer to 30 deer per square mile.

That was just one piece of information that about 100 Canton and Milton residents learned when they attended last night’s meeting at the Blue Hills Trailside Musem.

Canton resident, Denise Swenson, organized the meeting after researching the issue for the last year. After she and others in her family contracted Lyme disease she realized that others in her neighborhood also were suffering from this debilitating disease.

Several studies have linked a decrease in tick populations when deer populations are decreased, deer populations are not the only culprit. Speakers stressed how Lyme disease is linked not only to deer populations, but many other factors as well. For example, ticks pick up the disease from the white-footed mouse, which is the species that carries the disease.

Several government officials attended the meeting, including Bob McKenzie from the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and Marion McEttrick from the Milton Board of Selectman.

When one participant noted that nothing could be done about the deer populations without the cooperation from DCR, Bob McKenzie explained that the DCR did not currently have a position on the issue. Current regulations prohibit deer hunting and there are no population studies in the Blue Hills on which to base policy.

Marion McEttrick acknowledged the problem was one that state and town agencies would need to address the issue “within the year.”

Swenson will be forming a working group to continue to work on this issue.

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