USDA plans to use treated corn for ticks on deer

By Craig Nyhus

Lone Star Outdoor News

As part of the effort to control cattle fever ticks, the U.S Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proposing to treat white-tailed deer with ivermectin, a broad spectrum anti-parasitic drug, to control tick vectors of cattle fever in Cameron, Hidalgo, Jim Wells, Kinney, Maverick, Starr, Val Verde, Webb, Willacy, and Zapata counties in South Texas.

The deer would be fed ivermectin-treated corn from a closed gravity feeder placed in areas where cattle fever infestation is a concern. Ivermectin is a widely used anti-parasitic drug in humans, livestock, and pets. Treated corn would be placed in the gravity flow feeders from February through July to control cattle fever ticks in deer populations.

The feeders would be mandatory on both public land and private ranches with cattle within the tick quarantine area as part of the herd plan for all quarantined premises.

The use of treated corn or pellets to control internal parasites in deer is not new, as it has been used by deer and exotic breeders for years. It is not currently legal for use on wild deer, although some ranchers advocate that it should be.

One South Texas ranchers reported deer covered with ticks before using the pellets.

Ronnie Echols, of Lyssey and Echols feed, said internal parasites feed on the deer at a time when they are weak after the rut.

“Getting rid of parasites will do more than what we can do with feed,” he said.