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Report: Ticks Love Climate Change

PHOTO: This CDC illustration shows how to safely remove a tick. Lyme disease-transmitting deer ticks have proliferated in Maryland and other states, and a new report from the National Wildlife Federation blames climate change.
PHOTO: This CDC illustration shows how to safely remove a tick. Lyme disease-transmitting deer ticks have proliferated in Maryland and other states, and a new report from the National Wildlife Federation blames climate change.
August 20, 2014

BALTIMORE - Climate change is connected to all kinds of creepy-crawly critters, with a new National Wildlife Federation report detailing how those changes are affecting the outdoor experience in Maryland.

Hunters, anglers, bird-watchers and hikers have long known they have to cover up and watch for stinging and biting insects, said Doug Inkley, a senior scientist for the federation, but the risks are multiplying as seasons arrive earlier and later.

"We have deer ticks, which are expanding their range faster than has been projected," he said, "and, of course, deer ticks are the ones that transmit Lyme disease."

The report noted that Maryland is one of the top states for Lyme disease cases.

The report called for approval of proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations to reduce carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. Inkley added that humans aren't the only ones trying to fend off pests and other complications of climate change.

"There are ways that we can help wildlife be more resistant or adaptive to climate change," he said. "For example, we can protect corridors of habitat, so that as habitats are shifting, the animals can move as well."

In addition, garden and crop pests also are growing in numbers, with certain types of stink bugs and other non-natives munching vegetables and other plants.

The report, "Ticked Off: America's Outdoor Experience and Climate Change," is online at nwf.org.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD