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deer blood sampling

A researcher wearing blue medical gloves and a headlamp sits on the ground and draws blood with a syringe from the leg of a deer in the nighttime.

A proof-of-concept study shows the potential of feeding wild white-tailed deer corn treated with moxidectin, a derivative of ivermectin that eliminates ticks. Deer are key hosts in tick lifecycles, and systemic treatment could aid in reducing tick abundances. And, unlike ivermectin, moxidectin in deer meat may be safely consumed with no required delay. To test this strategy, free-ranging white-tailed deer were fed moxidectin-treated corn from automatic broadcast feeders in Norwalk, Connecticut, in a study conducted in 2021 and 2022. In both years, deer were captured to document how many parasitizing ticks they carried and determine moxidectin levels in their blood. The efforts were successful in that moxidectin levels known to be effective at eliminating ticks (equal to or greater than 5-8 parts per billion) were detected in 24 of 29 (83 percent) deer captured when treated corn was available. (Photo by Rebecca Earnest, Yale School of Public Health)

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