Deer Collar Could Help Harness Lyme Ticks
September 2, 1999
An automatic device that puts a
pesticide-impregnated collar around a white-tailed deers neck may help
reduce Lyme disease in the northeast and help control cattle fever ticks along
the Texas-Mexico border.
Pesticide collars are commonly used for controlling ticks and other
parasites on domestic animals. But, until now, collaring wildlife has meant
trapping or tranquilizing the deer. The new collaring unit, patented by
Agricultural Research Service
scientists, lures deer to a specially designed feeder filled with corn. To eat,
the animal must place its neck near the collaring mechanism, which releases a
self-adjusting, flexible collar, similar to flea collars worn by cats and dogs.
ARS researchers based in Kerrville, Texas, have used the collars on captive
deer behind fences at the Texas
Department of Parks and Wildlifes Kerr Wildlife Management Area in
Hunt, Texas. They have not seen any ticks attached and successfully feeding on
the neck and head of collared deer. Without collars, these deer typically have
hundreds to thousands of ticks feeding on them.
The collars were impregnated with amitraz, a pesticide approved for
livestock that also kills ticks on the deers hair and skin. The pesticide
currently is not approved for use on deer, but--if labeled for this use--would
be safe to use during the hunting season from October through December. That's
when most adult blacklegged ticks--the culprits behind Lyme disease--feed on
Lyme disease is the most prevalent tickborne human disease in the United
States. About 90 percent of the cases reported to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
occur in Northeastern states.
ARS and Wildlife Management Technologies of Noank, Conn., have signed a
Cooperative Research and Development Agreement to develop a commercial
prototype collaring unit and evaluate its effectiveness in a variety of
The scientists have developed an electronic device to prevent
double-collaring. And they are working to design the collars to biodegrade or
fall off once the insecticide breaks down.
Scientific contact: J. Mathews Pound, ARS
U.S. Livestock Insects
Research Laboratory, Kerrville, Texas, phone (830) 792-0342, fax (830)