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Vermont launches tick survey to look for the Lone Star tick

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Dept. (VTF&W) and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) are teaming up in a cooperative effort with Vermont hunters to look for the Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum), a tick believed to be in Vermont but one that has eluded capture through standard surveillance methods. However, this tick species has been found on turkeys in other northern states. This will be Vermont’s first turkey tick survey.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum)

Volunteers will staff several reporting stations around the state on youth turkey hunting weekend (April 23 and 24) and opening day of 2022 spring turkey season (May 1) to inspect harvested turkeys for Lone Star ticks, if hunters give their permission to do so. After inspection and collection of any ticks, which should take no more than 5 minutes per bird, information will be collected on the harvested turkey and the location in which it was harvested.

The VAAFM Environmental Surveillance Program tracks mosquito and tick populations around the state and works in partnership with the Vermont Dept. of Health to help prevent vector-borne diseases in humans and livestock. This new cooperative effort with the VTF&W is important to determine if Vermont has a persistent population of Lone Star ticks, because these ticks can transmit certain diseases if they attach to humans. There is no known risk associated with eating harvested turkeys that host Lone Star ticks and no additional concern or actions are warranted.

As with all outdoor activity in Vermont, hunters should be vigilant in taking precautions against being bitten by any ticks. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants with pants tucked into socks, use an EPA-approved insect repellent and do daily tick checks. When possible, shower as soon as you get home to wash off any crawling ticks and toss your field clothes in the dryer on high for 20 minutes to kill any ticks that may have hitchhiked on your clothes.

“This is a voluntary program, and we greatly appreciate your allowing us to look over your birds,” said VAAFM Secretary Anson Tebbetts.

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