Tim Callahan

The Norwalk Health Department provides information on Lyme Disease to the public. Ticks brought to the Health Department are analyzed by Laboratory personnel.. Deer ticks are sent to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station for Lyme Disease testing. Check our web site for more information

Norwalk is taking part in the County-wide tick study and will have two sites analyzed for the density of tick populations by Dr Eva Sapi of University of New Haven.

Norwalk Alliance members are Tim Callahan and Thomas Closters:

For press article on the educational campaign in the Norwalk Advocate go to :,0,1564797.s...

Deer-control group pushes for more hunting

The Advocate
By Ryan Jockers
Staff Writer

Published December 16 2005

Despite some opposition, several towns -- An alliance of towns that wants to reduce the local deer population is seeking support for a hunt, saying it would improve public health and safety.

The Fairfield County Deer Management Alliance, made up of representatives from 14 towns and cities, has produced posters detailing the threats it says are caused by deer. Alliance members say hunting deer would help reduce Lyme disease -- most prevalent in the state in Fairfield County -- and automobile accidents with the animals.

The towns, including Greenwich, Wilton and Darien -- have recently begun permitting hunting on specific lands to cull the herd, which is estimated at 40 deer per each of Fairfield County's 837 square miles.

Darien had its first hunt on public land Sunday; Greenwich hired sharpshooters last year; and Wilton has allowed hunting on reservoir property, owned by the First Taxing District of Norwalk, for three years. Pat Sesto, Wilton's environmental affairs officer, and the Deer Alliance's executive director, said anecdotal evidence from hunters suggests there are fewer deer on the property.

Lyme disease, an illness affecting the nervous system, is passed to humans from ticks, which acquire the bacteria from mice; but ticks rely on the blood of deer-sized mammals to reproduce.

Towns reporting the most cases of Lyme disease -- such as Ridgefield, Redding, Wilton, Weston and Easton -- may have as many as 60 to 100 deer per square mile, the Deer Alliance says.

Compared with the rest of Fairfield County, Norwalk has relatively few cases of Lyme disease -- only Stratford has fewer -- but the potential for getting the disease exists, particularly in the city's wooded outskirts, said Timothy Callahan, health department director.

Callahan, the city's representative to the Deer Alliance, said the posters, placed in public areas such as the health department, could help educate residents about the public health threat of having too many deer.

"It's very important to make people aware of the dangers posed by tick-borne diseases like Lyme, and deer play into that," he said. Alliance member Georgina Scholl of Redding said the poster highlights the simultaneous increase in the deer population and the incidence of Lyme disease. In the past 25 years, the state's deer population has grown to 150,000 from 25,000, while Lyme disease cases have increased to nearly 5,000 per year from about 100, according to state data.

Also important, she said, is the suggestion by researchers that the Lyme disease-transmitting ticks cannot reproduce in areas having fewer than eight deer per square mile.

"We don't want to eradicate deer, we just want to get them down to that number," Scholl said. "They are dependent on deer. This is an opportunity to get rid of Lyme disease."

There have been objections to hunting deer to control growth. Friends of Animals, a Darien-based nonprofit organization, has protested specific hunts, and publicly opposed those held by the Nature Conservancy, in Weston's Devil's Den Preserve, and Greenwich Audubon.

The organization has argued that deer population data are inflated and hunting contributes to more automobile accidents with the animals. It has advocated for fencing to exclude deer from certain areas, and for nature to take its course: Growth in deer population would lead to less food and shelter, which would lead to a decrease in reproduction and overall numbers.

The alliance says hunting can restore that balance. In the absence of natural predators, and as land development creates the "edge habitat" -- plants and shrubs where lawn meets woods -- that deer prefer, the species' growth continues unchecked, said Sesto, the alliance executive director.

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