Skip to main content

Chester County Press

Township exploring tick reduction methods

06/07/2016 11:40AM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

The proverbial bull's eye mark of Lyme disease may be on the backs of the Commonwealth, but one local township is discussing methods of fighting back.
In response to the presence of Ixodes scapularis, the blacklegged tick, and Borrelia burgdorferi, the causing agent of Lyme disease throughout Pennsylvania, London Grove Township is exploring the idea of purchasing – and installing – deer tick control devices known as the “4-Poster System” at various township-owned properties.
At the suggestion of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the supervisors invited John Goodall, an area manager and expert on tick reduction with the Brandywine Conservancy, to speak about the devices. His invitation to the meeting came on the heels of a discussion at the May 4 supervisors meeting, when Township manager Steve Brown discussed the possibility of the township purchasing, installing and maintaining these devices on township-owned properties.
The process of how a “4-Poster Station” works is simple. A central bin of whole kernel corn placed on the device serves as an attraction for the deer. By getting to the corn, the deer rub themselves against two sets of rollers or applicators that “paint” a small percentage of tickicide – or “permethrin” –  onto their ears, heads, necks and shoulders, where most of the feeding adult ticks are attached. The stations were developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency.
Goodall said that two studies in Maryland and Texas have shown a 90 percent reduction of tick population after installing the “4-Poster” devices. Locally, the Lyme Disease Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania has recorded some good results from the stations. The association's website reports that as many as 95 percent of the female adult ticks take their blood meal on a deer prior to laying their eggs. The study shows that if the deer ticks can be killed on the deer at this point in their life-cycle, 86 to 99 percent of the ticks could be killed over a three- to four-year period. Permethrin isn’t known to permeate the hide of the deer, so the meat remains consumable.
Goodall said that the conservancy has been using the “4-Poster System” at the 771-acre Laurels Preserve, located west of Unionville, since 2004.
“For us, it was a situation where hunters and staffers were getting sick with Lyme disease, and this was the only proactive measure we could find,” he said. “After about five years, they all came in and they said they wanted to talk to us about those deer feeders. They told us, 'We like them.'”
Goodall said that it each unit costs about $600, and that it costs the Conservancy about $2,000 a year to maintain six feeders in the Preserve. Each feeder, he said, is responsible for approximately 50 acres of property, and each feeder would require about 200 pounds of feed a month, and service every two weeks.
“It's going to be relative to how many deer you have in any area,” Goodall said. “It's not rocket science, but you have to manage it. What you'll find in the first three months, you may not find anything. All of a sudden, you begin to see the deer activity and see a constant use (by the deer).”
Although said that there are no deed restrictions for putting the systems in place, Goodall said that the township would have to obtain a license to administer the tickicide used in the system.
Deer ticks – and subsequently, Lyme disease –  is present in all 67 counties of Pennsylvania and of those, Chester County has ranked extremely high on that list of counties for reported cases of the disease. The possible reasons for these high numbers are many, but experts generally believe that cases of Lyme disease rose in the county due to residential development in the 1980s and 1990s, that drove deer and their ticks closer to humans.
Since 2011 – when there were 664 confirmed cases and 113 suspected cases of Lyme disease  – the county has recorded a fairly consistent drop in reported and suspected Lyme cases. In 2014, those numbers had fallen to 173 and 89, respectively.
Goodall encouraged the supervisors to talk with nearby townships – such as London Britain Township – who have incorporated these systems in their vicinities.
In other township business, the township's parks and recreation board will hold a meeting on June 15 at 7 p.m. at the township building, to discuss ideas on how the township can work with residents to keep the dog park and trails at Goddard Park clean of dog waste. their May 4 meeting, supervisors voted unanimously to reopen the dog park after ordering it closed at their April 6 meeting, due to public violation of park rules.
Despite some bad weather months at the beginning of the year, the year-to-date gross revenues at Inniscrone Golf Course have increased 46 percent over last year at this time. The special event calendar at the course is also getting busier, as course manager Tom Bolko said that the banquet room has booked two weddings and one Bar Mitzvah for 2017.
The board agreed to enter into a conservation easement with the owner of the 15-acre Larmore property, located off of East Avondale Road, for an amount not to exceed $210,000, which will be paid for out of the township's open space fund.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail [email protected]