Pink deer alert in Fairfax County as part of plan to fight ticks

March 26, 2012

Deer in Northern Virginia are getting a pretty-in-pink makeover as part of new tick-fighting measures. (Ricky Carioti/WASHINGTON POST)

The pink deer are part of a campaign that will use pesticide-laced fur dye to fight ticks and, if all goes as planned, minimize the incidence of Lyme disease in the county.


Ticks, which feed on the blood of host animals such as deer, can transmit Lyme disease and other diseases to humans. (Lauree Feldman/GETTY IMAGES)

There are 20 feeding stations set up around the county using corn as bait. When the deer approach the station to eat, they’ll rub up against rollers containing pink dye treated with pesticide.

The pesticide should kill any ticks on the deer’s fur, while the deer will walk away with full bellies--and lovely fuchsia stripes that will last about four days. Wildlife officials said the dye is not toxic to the deer.

Deer are the primary hosts of adult black-legged ticks, which can transmit diseases to humans.

The experiment is part of a three-year, $380,000 study to determine if the pesticidal dye is a good way to control ticks.

The stations, which have been set up in Sully Woodlands and Hemlock Overlook Regional Park, are expected to remain in place through early 2015.

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