Letters to the Editor
Without doubt, deer are the chief culprits
To The Editor:
A letter writer expressed the opinion that deer reduction is not useful as a means of reducing the risk of acquiring Lyme disease or other deer tick transmitted infections. She stated that other hosts would replace deer, that risk would increase with deer reduction because ticks accumulate in their absence, and that reported studies are not conclusive.
Her statements are either taken out of context from published scientific reports, or are not quite correct.
The number and quality of peer reviewed scientific reports that have accumulated clearly support the utility of deer reduction. The magnitude of the burden of deer tick transmitted infections (Lyme disease, babesiosis, and human granulocytic ehrlichiosis) is directly related to the density of deer ticks. The density of deer ticks is directly related to that of deer. I would be happy to provide a list of publications that unequivocally provide the basis for this statement.
Experimental reduction of deer herds or excluding these hosts from properties by fencing has locally diminished deer tick density, and in two instances (Great Island, Mass., and Monhegan Island, Maine), reduced the incidence of deer tick-transmitted infections. Computer models based on tick infestation data suggest that 8-10 deer per square mile provides for a deer tick density that is less likely to support Lyme disease spirochete transmission. This theoretical estimate corresponds nicely with empirical observations taken during the Great Island experiment.
Although it is true that deer ticks infest virtually any warm-blooded animal, only a few animal species serve as reproductive hosts. All three tick stages (larvae, nymph, and adult) must take blood in order to develop, but the bloodmeal that counts the most for generating ticks is that taken by the adult female deer tick. One fed female tick will lay 2,000 eggs. One deer can have anywhere from 0-500 female ticks infesting them during each week of October and November. (The biggest question for me as a biologist, therefore, is why we are not neck deep in ticks.) In one study, deer fed more than 90 percent of all adult female deer ticks even in the presence of raccoons, feral cats, or opossums. During the 10 years I studied Great Island, no other host served to replace deer as the reproductive host and tick densities remained low. Adult deer ticks do feed on coyotes, foxes, feral cats, and sometimes on raccoons, but the densities of these animals are generally far less than that of deer and the number of deer ticks on them less than that which may be found on deer (they are, after all, smaller animals). Obviously, humans and dogs become infested, but few to no adult deer ticks complete their feeding and lay eggs as a result because of grooming or the use of topical acaricides such as Frontline.
It is true that in all deer reduction experiments adult deer ticks appeared to be more dense the following year or so, perhaps because they accumulated in the absence of their main host. However, this did not translate to increased risk to humans, simply because adult deer ticks rarely cause infection. This is not because they are not infected (they are) or not capable of transmitting (they are) but that they are much larger than nymphal deer ticks and are easily found and removed prior to causing infection.
Also, people are dressed differently in the fall, winter, and early spring months when adult deer ticks are present, with far fewer ticks gaining access to unprotected skin. Lyme disease incidence is epidemiologically well known to be an order of magnitude less during October-April than in April-July. Note that the apparent increase in adult deer ticks after a sharp reduction in deer is only temporary, resulting from the ticks that had been produced the year before. Deer ticks have a two-year life cycle, so ticks that you see this year are the result of bloodmeals taken by adult deer ticks during the winter two years ago.
Ms. Simon, the letter writer, does raise a valid point with respect to the timing of hunting. Deer reduction would be far more effective if it started in late September prior to the emergence of adult deer ticks. However, this consideration is more important for instances where sharpshooting and immediate reduction in deer density is being sought. If we wish to reduce the deer herd gradually over 5-10 years, the goal of eventual reduction in deer tick density would be achieved regardless of the timing of the reduction.
Deer reduction by increased hunting is essentially free to the community. Indeed, hunters contribute to the local economy. Although there are products and interventions that one can buy that have been suggested as substitutes for deer reduction, where are individuals and communities going to find the money to buy and deploy such products, at an effective level over the whole island for several years in a row, if not in perpetuity? Funds are scarce for many other very worthy public health programs.
No responsible scientist will advocate deer reduction as the only method needed to reduce risk. Deer reduction must go hand in hand with public education (tick checks, seeking medical attention) and vegetation management. Nor will deer reduction eradicate deer ticks or Lyme disease risk ("eradicate" meaning zero ticks or zero risk). They are, unfortunately, here to stay. But we can reduce the density of these ticks by reducing the density of their main hosts. Reducing risk by 80 percent, 50 percent or even 30 percent (70 Lyme cases each year instead of 100) are all worthwhile public health goals. Based on my 20 years of experience with deer ticks and their ecology, I would suggest that reducing deer to fewer than 20 per square mile might reduce current risk by half; reducing deer to fewer than 10 per square mile by 80 percent. The way to look at the problem is to think back to the time when Martha's Vineyard did not have a problem with deer ticks and to set the goal as trying to return to that time, when one might see such ticks every once in awhile, but not every day.
Sam R. Telford 3rd, Sc.D.
Associate Professor of
Cummings School of
To the Editor:
This letter was written to Sofia Anthony, president, Hospice board of directors:
I am a former Hospice volunteer, and I am both saddened and puzzled by the changes in the Hospice staff. More than half of the staff, who were for me the heart of the Hospice, are no longer there. This includes Cathy Brennan, Kathy Fitzgibbon, Jean Hay and Katie Friedman. Why did they feel they had to leave?
Why hasn't there been any public testimonials honoring their many years of heartfelt, selfless service?
Why was Cathy Brennan asked to step down?
Why did the board publicly admit that they had handled things badly but make no attempt to rectify things beyond that admission?
Why didn't the board wait until after the independent consultant to implement change?
Is Hospice a better place now?
Will the public be given answers to these questions?
To the Editor:
It is unusual for citizens with different political affiliations to find common ground on any issue. But right here on Martha's Vineyard, Island Democrats and Republicans are joining together to support a bi-partisan statewide effort to end the age-old practice of gerrymandering, the manipulation of electoral districts to dampen political competition and ensure easy re-election for those who control the process of drawing districts. Common Cause Massachusetts and a coalition of good government and civil rights groups are working to collect more than 66,000 certified signatures across the state before Thanksgiving to get the Fair Districts Initiative on the ballot in 2008.
The Fair Districts Initiative petition asks voters if they wish to support the creation of an independent, non-partisan commission to oversee the redistricting process, along with more stringent guidelines to direct the redrawing of electoral boundaries. Common Cause ran public policy questions on the issue in 15 state representative districts across the state last year, all of which won by more than two-to-one margins.
Redistricting as we know it today is an exercise of political power at the expense of voters and the communities of Massachusetts. With this Fair Districts Initiative petition, voters can send a clear message to Beacon Hill: end gerrymandering and promote districts that are truly representative, competitive, and allow voters to hold their elected officials accountable.
It is a matter of the fundamentals of democracy. Instead of voters choosing our elected officials, some elected officials try to choose voters under the current system. This is democracy on its head.
The leaders of both Island Republicans and Democrats believe that this is a very important issue and will be out collecting signatures across the island in the weeks to come. Please look for us out at Island businesses, or contact Rhonda Cohen at 627-8709, Jim Powell at 696-1959, or Shirley Reiss (Common Cause Massachusetts) at 645-9529, or sign up online at www.massfairdistricts.org.
In addition to collecting 66,000 certified signatures, 51 legislators must also approve the redistricting initiative in two successive two-year legislative sessions before the issue goes before Massachusetts voters in the 2008 election. So it is also important to call our elected state officials, Sen. Robert O'Leary and Rep. Eric Turkington, and ask for their support of this Fair Districts Initiative.
Democrat Council of
Martha's Vineyard Republican Club
Not just houses
To the Editor:
So you said, "They are just houses."
It's not just houses, it's about traffic, it's about wastewater disposal, it's about overbuilding in a neighborhood that is not zoned for that size of a development.
You should take a drive down Watcha Path, and you will have a better idea of why it's not the right location for that many houses.
The system will work when they stop misusing 40B to overbuild on land that is not zoned for so many houses.
I hope the system works and Bill Bennett's Cozy Hearth group has to build fewer houses.
Favors Senate ban on cruel treatment of prisoners
To the Editor:
I recently read an article about my president that made me even more nauseous than usual.
This most recent incident concerns the defense appropriations bill HR2863.
Sen. John Mc Cain, a Republican who spent five years as a POW in Vietnam, sponsored a measure that would require American troops to follow interrogation standards set in the Army Field Manual and bar "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" of prisoners in U.S. custody.
Given the prisoner abuse scandals that have occurred over the past few years at the hands of the U.S military, this would seem like a reasonable thing to write into law. Ninety senators agreed and voted for it, but President Bush has vowed to veto it, stating that there are already laws governing this, and that putting this into law would hinder our ability to conduct the war on terror.
Now, I know that everyone sees the world through their own lens, but what is the possible justification to oppose such a statement? The few people I know who actually like Bush say they like him because he is looking out for America. If he is opposed to such legislation, he is not really looking out for America's best interest. This country is what it is because we are not like the "barbaric, evil-doing, freedom-hating terrorists" that our president would like us to believe we are fighting. We are a great country because we have core beliefs and laws that do not allow for "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" of anyone. Period. By refusing to allow this wording to be passed into law, our president is turning his back on the very values that he so boldfacedly purports to hold .
To the Editor:
Yes, the local officials did a bad job in dealing with hurricane Katrina. The other side of the story is Mike Brown, the FEMA director, did an awful job as well. Mr. Brown is a Bush crony with no experience in the job he held. There are obvious flaws in the administration's lack of disaster preparation. Imagine the criticism if Bill Clinton were still president and appointed an incompetent crony head of FEMA.
To the Editor:
Oak Bluffs beach cleanup day was Saturday, Sept. 24. The beach and grass along the sidewalk was cleaned of litter from the Steamship building down to the seawall across from Waban Park. In the spring, signs were installed, "Please don't litter, help keep our beach clean," which seems to have helped.
Thanks to the hardy volunteers that helped that windy morning. Peter Barnes and Penny lent their support. David Meurisse, who attends every year, collected his share of litter. A total of 12 bags were collected.
Also, a big thanks to Nicole Morey at the highway department who coordinated the pickup of the collected litter, and Rita at MV Gourmet Cafe and Bakery who graciously provided coffee and donuts to the participants.
Again, a big thanks to all that helped keep our beach clean.
Wait for the state
To the Editor:
I have been reading articles concerning the wastewater commissioner for Oak Bluffs and Edgartown and his suspected violations at his home concerning his septic system.
It seems that the state of Massachusetts contends that he has erred at his own residence when constructing his own septic system. This is his area of responsibility for the towns of Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, so one would think he would have sufficient knowledge to monitor and follow the rules for his own home.
Now the selectmen and the wastewater committee for the town of Oak Bluffs are considering giving him a pay raise because of his excellent job. Are they kidding?
One would think that these two Oak Bluffs committees would wait until the administrative law judge for the state of Massachusetts renders his decision as to whether or not there is justification to go forward with the fines for the infractions — serious infractions, if you and I were building a septic system.
Am I reading the articles correctly concerning the pay that he receives? The salary for the wastewater commissioner for Oak Bluffs and Edgartown is $114,500, $74,500 for Edgartown and $40,000 for Oak Bluffs, where, by the way, he only works 20 hours. Is the Edgartown job much more difficult than the Oak Bluffs job?
This salary is approaching the salary for the superintendent of schools for Martha' s Vineyard. Are the job qualifications to be a wastewater commissioner that detailed and complex? Does the job require a degree in this area?
If so, why did he incur eight infractions on his own home when he should know the rules?
The town committees should wait until the state renders a decision on these grievous infractions before granting a pay raise and even then it is questionable as to whether or not he should even receive one.
Eric E. Hohenthal
On time, or any time
To the Editor:
Those of us who can't indulge in a relaxed visit to the Shady Canine prior to our ferry excursions, pay close attention to the published Steamship schedule. After all it dictates an important component of our own ability to coordinate some tricky itineraries. Thus it is aggravating in the extreme to find that some freight boats ( two specific occasions involving the Governor) don't appear to feel constrained by the precision of a departure time, and just decide to take off once all the vehicle cargo is on board, and to hell with any paying pedestrians who are running for the pre-ordained deadline. Both my wife and I, independently, have been actually approaching the boat, at a clip and well aware of the time, only to be waved away three minutes early by some high-handed official of " the Authority," claiming that we're too late
No, no, you're too early. When I was meeting a friend on board recently, who confirmed the early cast-off, I decided to take the information to the operations manager, who I thought, as a service official, might benefit from customer feedback. His enlightened response was complete denial. Really. As I said to him, what is the point in publishing a schedule if you only intend to treat it as approximate?
Coming from a country where the trains do indeed run on time, I was appalled at his response and in this slack and inconsiderate policy. Gentlemen, please check your watches more carefully. There will always be those who, often through no fault of their own, arrive at the last minute.
To the Editor:
On Thursday, October 6, 2005, my daughter's four-month-old pitbull puppy was stolen from James Place (off County Road) Oak Bluffs.
The puppy is brindle in color with a white patch on her chest. Her name is Precious.
The puppy was stolen from her kennel and brought to a waiting cab one street over to Leslie's Lane. The puppy was handed to a woman in the cab by the name of Amanda. Amanda has short dark hair, wears a ball cap and could be mistaken for a male by the way she dresses.
The cab then took the party directly to the Steamship Authority to catch the next boat. This happened between 8 and 9 pm.
I am asking for anyone who has information to please contact my daughter Brittany or the Oak Bluffs Police Department at 508-693-0750. I am asking that the cab driver who transported Amanda to the boat to please come forward with information and to verify what you saw.
I am asking anyone at the Steamship Authority who may have seen the woman with the puppy to please come forward and verify that you saw the woman with the puppy.
My daughter is the grandaughter of Peter and Barbara Duart of Vineyard Haven.
My daughter is heartbroken at the loss of her puppy. I implore you to please help us find Precious.
To the Editor:
I would like to thank all who made the sixth Annual Miles of Memories Walk a success. Due to all of your support, the Island raised $7,000 to help families who are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's Disease. The money will go for respite for caregivers, Safe Return Program, educational programs, support groups, and a 24-hour telephone hotline. Thank you to corporate sponsors Cronig's Market, Martha's Vineyard Hospital, Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Chilmark Chocolates, Sovereign Bank - Bank of Martha's Vineyard, all of the donors, and walkers and teams making this year a success. I would like to thank all the donors who gave prizes for the walkers: Prudy Magee of Almost Heaven Massage, Vanessa Ventura, Paul Halkas of Daily Grind Café who gave gift certificates, Island Transport for donating a bus, Tom Seeman of Vineyard Bottled Water for water, and all the volunteers — Yvonne Manerson, Lillian Pearce — who helped at the water stations and along the route. A thank you goes to the Tisbury and Oak Bluffs Police and Ambulance for being available for an emergency and providing safety along the walk route.
Lastly, a big thank you goes to Tom Dresser, co-chair, for all of his help and support. To Barbara Mallett who came down once again to help with registration and to the rest of the committee — Ellen Reynolds, Arlene Bodge and Virginia McClure — for the their support in making this year's event a success.
Miles of Memories Walk 2005