TRENTON, N.J. – The Assembly Appropriations Committee approved a measure Wednesday sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer to fund efforts to study, monitor and control tick populations in the state.
The bill (A3574) appropriates $250,000 to the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers University to mitigate the problem parasites.
“Tick-borne diseases are a serious concern for residents who enjoy hiking, camping and exploring New Jersey’s state forests, parks and wooded areas during the summer months. We have learned to become vigilant and perform tick checks after participating in outdoor activities, but with exploding tick populations, including invasive species, we need to take stronger measures to protect our communities from illness,” Dancer (R-Ocean) said.
New Jersey is home to the Asian longhorned tick (an invasive species), American dog tick, lone star tick and the black-legged “deer” tick. All of them can cause illness in humans, kill animals and transmit different diseases, including the most common Lyme disease caused by bites from the black-legged tick. The Garden State ranks third nationally in Lyme disease cases with a rate of 40.8 cases per 100,000 – almost four times as high as the national rate of 10.8.
“The prevalence of ticks in the landscape has become a legitimate public health concern,” Dancer said.
Experts are expecting the tick population to be high this summer, given the recent warm wet weather and above-average temperatures this winter.
The funds appropriated in the bill would be used to hire staff, acquire equipment, or create new programs beginning in fiscal year 2021.