May 21, 2019

Media Contacts:
Mark Miller, Administrator, Office of Public Information, 410-313-2022
Samuel Richardson, Deer Program Manager, Department of Recreation & Parks, 410-313-1675

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks (HCRP), in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and University of Maryland (UMD), will begin the next phase of a study launched in January 2017 to evaluate integrated tick control strategies on public lands in Howard County adjacent to residential communities. A first in Maryland, the study is part of a larger, five-year Integrated Tick Management Project of the USDA-ARS.

Starting this month, the team will resume its efforts to place VHF (very high frequency) collars on mice to better understand mouse foraging behavior and how white-footed mice respond to tick treatments such as bait boxes. The collared-mice study consists of two phases: tracking mice using telemetry and grid trapping. 

The seven sites selected to participate in this portion of the study are: Blandair Regional Park North, Cedar Lane Park, Centennial Park, David Force Natural Resource Area, Middle Patuxent Environmental Area, Rockburn Branch Park and Wincopin Trails. These sites were chosen based off the area-wide project sites, tick transects and vegetation similarities.

In addition, Blandair Regional North, Cedar Lane and Rockburn Branch Parks will be utilized for nighttime field work. Nighttime field work will take Sunday through Friday, 4:00 p.m. to midnight each night, June through July and September through October. 

Mouse bait boxes have been and will continue to be deployed at study sites near residential backyards adjacent to selected parks. These bait boxes are intended to control immature ticks feeding on white-footed mice. Additional tick control in the form of Met52® EC natural spray will also be deployed at study sites on park property located between residential backyards and natural areas.

A set group of deer previously collared for the purpose of tracking movement, have collars scheduled to fall off this year through the pre-programed release device. These collars must be collected by the USDA to download any available data from their tracking units. If any collars are found, the public is urged to contact Samuel Richardson with the Department of Recreation & Parks’ Natural & Historical Resources Division. 

The goal of this study is to identify the most effective way to control ticks in residential areas and to reduce the overall tick population density in suburban landscapes across the county and the state. Over the last two years, the study has included tick sampling, deer collaring and mouse trapping. Data collected thus far has provided valuable information on tick population density and pathogen infection status in both the deer tick and white-footed mice. 

In addition, “4-Post Feeder” deer bait/treatment stations to treat deer for ticks were also deployed in the fall of 2017, with additional stations added in 2018 and 2019.

All field work involving mice and deer in Howard County by the project team will follow the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee protocol approved by the ARS-USDA for the safety of the animals.  

For more information on the entire study, check out the “Department of Recreation & Parks announces new study to evaluate tick control strategies” news release sent out January 31, 2017, “Howard County Recreation & Parks announces next step in study evaluating tick-control strategies” news release sent out September 5, 2017, or contact Samuel Richardson with Recreation & Park’s Division of Natural and Historic Resources at 410-313-1675 or email [email protected]

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