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Dover BOH Lyme Disease Committee Discusses Controlled Burns

The committee discussed the possibility of using a controlled burn in Dover to help curtail the tick population.

The Dover Board of Health Lyme Disease Committee discussed preparedness and a possible controlled burn in Dover to curtail tick population at their meeting Thursday morning.

Hunters for the upcoming season are currently being tested by local authorities to hunt on town land.

Committee member George Giunta, who coordinated the bow-hunting program to help curtail the deer population in Dover, said the hunters were asked to shoot a target 25 yards away three out of five times.

He said only one person failed, adding that it is tough to fail with the accuracy modern bow’s provide.

The BOH Lyme Disease Committee has adopted a five-year plan to curtail the tick and deer population in Dover in light of the state board of health’s proclamation that the area has one of the highest rates of Lyme disease in the state.

The committee believes that there is a direct correlation between Lyme disease and the high amount of ticks found on deer in town.

As part of their hunting program the committee announced that the properties maintained by the Trustees of Reservations in the area would be putting up 8-foot mesh fencing to herd in the deer and putting up signs for the public.

The committee heard a presentation from Tim Simmons, a restoration ecologist for the Mass. National Heritage and Endangered Species Program, who specializes in working with state and local municipalities to create controlled burns that will aid in the regrowth of ecosystems.

Simmons discussed how he understands that Lyme disease is serious, stating that he has had it five times and will never recover from some of its effects.

Simmons said in the past Native Americans used controlled fires to curb parasites.

He said that both he and the people he works with have gone through state firefighter training and he often works with local fire departments to help with controlled burns.

He said he does up to 1,500-acres of controlled burns a year.

Committee member Beth Webb stated during the meeting that on the National Parks Service website it states that they have successfully used a controlled burn to reduce the tick population and found a 38-percent reduction after six months.

Simmons said he would like to further investigate that claim before he believed it completely.

“There are few studies on controlled burns and tick population,” Simmons said.

Committee member Steve Kruskall asked how often a controlled burn would be needed in a given area.

Simmons said it is dependent upon the fuel and reasons for the burn, but that the average is every three years. 

After each burn, Simmons said, the area is livened up with birds such as pheasants and turkeys.  

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