Tick expert Samuel R. Telford III, an epidemiologist in the Cummings School’s department of infectious disease and global health, focused on the rise of tick populations and Lyme disease along the same swath of Massachusetts suburbia, between interstates 95 and 495, that has seen deer populations swell.
“I used to go to Nantucket to collect ticks. Now I go to Dover,” he said.
Telford, who supports hunting to reduce deer populations and the incidence tick-borne illnesses, said the region needs to look at longer-term solutions.
One of the first people in the audience to ask a question was John Sanbonmatsu, a philosophy professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, who objected to the use of the word “harvesting” for killing deer.
“Will you ever reflect on the fact you want to push these animals into smaller and smaller circles?” said Sanbonmatsu, an Arlington resident who attended the meeting in support of Weston Deer Friends. “Do you really mean the deer are responsible, that they are the culprits, when you began your talk talking about habitat encroachment and human development? It seems to me the culprit, the responsible party, is human beings.”
“I completely agree with you. We brought this upon ourselves,” Telford responded over catcalls of “enough” from the audience.
“Then why do you keep talking about killing?” Sanbonmatsu said.
“Because I am a public health person and we need some realistic answers,” Telford said. “And sadly, as much as we dislike it, we have to do something to protect human health, and that means something has to give, and that means animals do. It’s a matter of balancing human needs with respect for animals.”
Jose Martinez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.