In many northeastern communities the threat and fear of Lyme disease is, ironically, the hunter’s best friend.

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_In a popularity contest, the graceful deer would trounce the lowly, parasitic tick. But hunters can’t shoot ticks. With tick-borne Lyme disease posing an increasing health threat in Boston’s wooded suburbs, communities are training their sights on the profusion of deer that host the bloodsucking parasites. A number of towns — from Andover to Martha’s Vineyard — are discussing whether to introduce or expand deer hunting in hopes of curbing Lyme disease, which has exploded in Eastern Massachusetts over the past decade.

In Dover, where the deer population is almost three times the levels recommended by state wildlife officials and cases of Lyme disease have increased sharply, officials last week lifted restrictions on bow hunting on some public land to begin the town’s first “deer culling.” The hunt is strictly regulated, and will probably harvest only about 50 deer. But in a region with limited affection for deer hunting, and doubts about its safety in well-traveled woods, it shows that personal health concerns are gaining the upper hand. “Five years ago, we couldn’t have done this,” said Barbara Roth-Schechter, head of the town’s health board. “People would have shot it down. But there’s been an exponential increase in Lyme disease, and people are fed up.”
Of course the obvious response is if hunting had been allowed in the first place perhaps the threat of Lyme disease wouldn’t be so profound. Be that as it may, how do you feel about Lyme disease as a catalyst for increased hunting opportunity?