Franklin demonstrates deer feeding and tick killing devices

Farnklin Township supervisor Eric Brindle demonstrates the use of the deer feeder to kill ticks. Photo by Matt Freeman

FRANKLIN -- Wayne Hunter got Lyme disease four years ago, and he says numerous other people in the Franklin Township housing development near Strickersville called Brothers Riding have gotten it too.

Now they're going to start fighting back.

Brothers Riding and three other Franklin Township developments will soon be able to set up deer feeding stations designed to apply insecticide to the deer, killing the ticks that spread the disease, after the township supervisors made the stations available to representatives of the developments at a workshop meeting on April 11.

Eric Brindle, vice-chairman of the board of supervisors, said the township started a program last year to put the feeding stations on township property. But the supervisors decided against the idea because of liability concerns and because governmental bodies have to be licensed to use insecticides.

So the supervisors decided to make the four feeding stations they had bought at about $900 each available to interested members of the public. John Auerbach, chairman of the supervisors, said the supervisors wanted to get the stations operating as the beginning of an effort to combat the spread of the disease.

"Four of them is better than zero," Auerbach said, "so we'd like to get them out in the field and get them functioning."

Brindle demonstrated a feeding station to the attendees at the meeting. The green plastic station had bins on either end that dispensed corn to attract the deer. To get their mouths in the bin, the deer have to put their heads between two rollers that are soaked with a solution of permethrin, an insecticide. Once transferred to the deer's skin, the permethrin kills the ticks that spread the disease.

Saying the use of the feeder was "not really rocket science," Brindle demonstrated a device to apply the permethrin solution, adding that in London Britain Township, which has a widespread volunteer-based feeder program, they used a paintbrush to apply the solution.

Brindle said the permethrin was fatal to cats and fish, so it should be kept away from pets and not allowed to spill into a stream. Otherwise, it was similar to household chemicals like bleach, he said, safe if used properly and with common sense.

"This stuff is fairly innocuous," Brindle said, "but you don't want to drink it by the gallon."

Brindle said the property owners who put out the feeders would have to buy the permethrin themselves, because private citizens were freer to buy it than governments. But at least for the first year, the township has budgeted money to pay for the corn the feeders use.

The supervisors said they had considered having a lottery to distribute the four feeders among the nearly two dozen people who expressed an interest in having one. They also considered placing them in strategic places based on a map of the township.

But in the end, they decided that because of the limited number of people who attended the meeting on the subject, they would give the feeders to representatives of three developments who were present and then contact two other interested people to see if their neighbors agreed to have the feeders near their homes.

Because there was no need for a lottery, Brindle said, the township could buy the corn and get the feeders placed as soon as possible. Typically the feeders are put out from March to June and from October to mid-December. Brindle said it would take two years for the feeders to start having an effect, because of the life cycle of the ticks.

The supervisors said anyone who took a feeder should be honest if they found it difficult to keep up the maintenance, so the feeder could be placed elsewhere.

But according to Hunter, apathy regarding the feeder will not be a problem at Brothers Riding. "Our homeowner's group said if we didn't get one," he said, "we were going to go out and buy it ourselves."

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