USDA culls deer carrying ticks in Port Mansfield - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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USDA culls deer carrying ticks in Port Mansfield

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Posted: Monday, July 16, 2018 11:30 am

PORT MANSFIELD — For decades, hundreds of whitetail deer have roamed the bayside fishing village of Port Mansfield, eating corn out of residents’ hands and luring families who see them as a tourist draw.

Then last month, some of the deer appeared to disappear.

The reason, federal officials killed off 90 deer — about 25 percent of the area’s population — after the deer contracted cattle fever ticks.

“White-tail deer are a major carrier of cattle fever ticks, which carry a parasite that can severely sicken and kill cattle,” said Lyndsay Cole, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, this week. “Populations of ticks in this area have … begun to expand in recent years, and USDA continues to work with the Texas Animal Health Commission to protect the U.S. from these ticks.”

In June, the USDA “humanely euthanized” deer carrying cattle fever ticks, donating their meat to a food bank while burying their hides, Cole said.

“USDA does not seek to eliminate the deer in that area,” Cole added. “Rather, our aim is to manage fever ticks to prevent widespread disruptions to other wildlife and livestock.”

Tommy Rains, chairman of the Willacy County Navigation District, said the area is under quarantine.

To control the spread of the cattle fever ticks, the TAHC has placed nine South Texas counties under quarantine, Cole said. Along Highway 186, officials also have built a high fence to try to stop deer from moving north, Cole said.

A more complete version of this story is available on www.myBrownsvilleHerald.com

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