White Tail Deer Bring Risk to Campus Community


There is a higher risk of contracting Lyme Disease thanks to the many white-tailed deer who call Le Moyne home. White tailed deer have been spotted by students and faculty in front of several locations across campus such as the athletic center, dorm halls, the Jesuit Residence and the surrounding neighborhoods at all times of the day.

“I see at least 2 to 7 deer at a time,” Rick Bailey of campus security. “It varies as to the times I see them. Sometimes it’s early morning and sometimes near the evening hours.”

While deer can be interesting to watch, too many deer in one location often brings negative results: increased risk of accidents from deer crossing in front of cars, deer eating plants and[ most importantly] increased risk of Lyme disease.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation [DEC] has a program for managing the deer population. “Management of deer in New York seeks to maximize the benefits of its important resources while being mindful of the human and ecological concerns associated with abundant deer populations,” said the New York State DEC.

Though there are multiple ways of managing deer populations in suburban or city areas, the DEC prefers the method of traditional hunting.

“Traditional hunting has been most successful in controlling deer populations,” said the DEC. “It’s most cost effective than other control methods because hunters provide much of the labor at no cost.”

According to syracuse.com, the village of Fayetteville located five miles from campus plans on starting a bait-and-kill program to curb the problem. The bait-and-kill program sets up corn as bait and hunters will sit in tree stands close to the bait and kill the deer with crossbows or compact bows.

In the state of New York it is illegal to use bait to lure animals in for hunting purposes, but under the management program, the DEC is allowing it. Hunters who volunteer to take part in the bait-and-kill program will go through extensive background checks and must complete the archery safety course, according to syracuse.com.

Getting rid of the deer is not just to prevent car accidents or plants from being eaten; it’s mainly to prevent the spread of Lyme disease. The white-tailed deer is the main cause of the spread of the disease, because the deer carry ticks on their body and ticks are the main carriers of Lyme Disease.

Jennifer Thieben, a Physician Assistant at the Wellness Center on campus, said that so far “there have been no reports of Lyme disease this year. Last year there were 10 reports of students having ticks.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that ticks can attach to any part of the human body, but are often found in hard-to-see places such as the groin, armpits and scalp; and that early signs of Lyme disease are fever, headache, fatigue and a circular rash. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. The downside is that there are symptoms that can still linger in your body for months after being put on antibiotics, including fatigue, pain and aches.

Thieben suggests that if you’re going into the woods on campus—or any wooded area—that you should “keep yourself covered. Long sleeve shirts, long pants, there is even new clothing embedded with repellent that sometimes work better than repellent.”

She also suggested checking yourself for ticks within an hour of leaving the wooded area, and checking your clothing and backpack as well. To really make sure you’ve gotten rid of the ticks, the Center of Disease Control and Prevention suggests to, “Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour.”   

For more information on Lyme disease visit cdc.gov.