I read with interest the letter in the March/April issue requesting the Department of Environmental Conservation to place a moratorium on all trapping and hunting of red and gray fox. The intent is to increase the fox populations, which feed on white-footed mice. White-footed mice are a vector species for the bacteria (Lyme disease) transmitted by the deer tick.
The author, Mr. Butura, states this is the only way to stem the spread of Lyme disease. This is a rather strong statement when dealing with the biological world. Any factor, man-instituted or not, may cause a wide range of unintended results.
Consider what happened to fox populations in the late 1970s on the eastern shores of Maryland/Delaware. The fox hunters got foot-hold traps banned at a time when fox-pelt values were at an all-time high. The houndsmen simply wanted more fox to hunt and fewer traps threatening their hounds. Fox populations increased, leading to rabies. The epidemic slowly worked its way north to Pennsylvania, New York, and the New England states.
Advocating ways of increasing the populations of predators of the mice may seem like a clearcut solution to reducing Lyme disease. As the saying goes, Don’t mess with Mother Nature.”
Bill Ulinski, Dover, NH