The Vineyard Gazette has published the results of an online survey about the island's tick problem and possible solutions. This is a serious matter; it's not good for the tourist business to be known for Lyme disease. Among the 1300 people who volunteered their views through the survey, 68 percent had contracted Lyme disease themselves or known a close family member to experience a tick illness.
When I last wrote about this, I highlighted the possible political fallout. Scientists advocate culling the deer population to break up the tick breeding cycle which thrives on these warm blooded hosts. (Deer don't become ill from Lyme disease exposure as humans do.) This Manhattan-size island apparently provides a home to about 5000 deer -- I see them leaping away through the bushes almost every morning. Johnson proposed hiring efficient, experienced hunters to reduce the deer numbers; allowing more hunting on private land; and reforming health regulations that prevent donations of venison to food pantries.
Gazette as their report was headlined: "Survey Shows Strong Support for Culling Island Deer Herd."
The tick borne disease plague on the island involves five New England towns, all with their own governing leaders and their own traditions of local decision making. The deer problem -- the tick problem -- will find its way into discussions outside the post office, at the public library, in town meetings, maybe even in local selectmen elections. The issues involved are cross cutting; people are largely not locked into fixed positions in relation to an emerging threat. Though finding solutions is an urgent need, the threat is not so novel as to scare people silly. How Islanders work this out will be an interesting problem in popular democracy. Nobody is giving away their right to an opinion here ... I will be trying to follow the Island's deer decisions from afar.