Voyageurs National Park officials are partnering with the Minnesota Department of Health this summer to collect data on deer ticks. Deer ticks are known to carry pathogens for Lyme Disease and other maladies.
The Voyageurs National Park Association web site has details on the project HERE.
Although Voyageurs National Park is located approximately 50 miles north of the known range for deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis), tick-borne disease incidence in Minnesota has increased in recent years, and the geographical zone of exposure risk appears to be expanding as well.
The Minnesota Department of Health has partnered with public lands managers across the state since 2005 to collect deer ticks in order to determine tick distribution and infection prevalence. The purpose of the effort at Voyageurs is to document the presence of deer ticks within the Park, especially in areas frequented by visitors.
Deer tick collection will be done primarily by dragging cloth through tall grasses and trailside vegetation at specific locations. Any ticks found on the cloth or the skin or clothes of sampling personnel will be noted and preserved. At the end of the season, Voyageurs will send data to the Department of Health for analysis and, resources permitting, collected ticks may be tested for various human pathogens. The effort may be repeated in future years.
Voyageurs staff members and volunteers are collecting the data in five permanent sampling locations within the park: Rainy Lake City, the Kab-Ash Trailheads at Meadwood Road and the Ash River Trail, Cruiser Lake Trailhead, and Kettle Falls. Additionally, staff will opportunistically collect samples as they conduct regular work near campsites, visitor centers, hiking trails, and areas in the Kabetogama Peninsula backcountry.