Scientists say Adirondack tick population expanding

FRANKLIN, N.Y. (WCAX) Warmer weather is tempting more people to get outdoors, and that means an increase in the number of people getting ticks and tick-bourne diseases.

Courtesy: Adirondack Watershed Institute

Nearly five years ago the tick population in parts of the Adirondacks was almost nonexistent, now one local scientist says that population is rising, and it's due in large part to climate change.

The little pests can cause big problems. Paul Smith's College biology professor Lee Ann Sporn says the Adirondacks were always too cold, but in recent years they have warmed. "It's an emergent area where part of the range expansion of ticks is due to climate change, but it's still very patchy."

Ticks have always populated downstate New York and neighboring states, but they have made moves into the Adirondack mountains the last few years. "About half the ticks in the North Country are infected with Lyme," Sporn said.

Ticks like warm, wet, low-elevations, and this time of year they at peak activity. Areas along Lake Champlain have high tick density, And while they are less abundant in the mountains, heath officials say it's still good to keep your guard up. "Wherever they can feel as comfortable as they can, they will latch on and go to town," said
Peggy Labombard with the Clinton County Health Department.

And along with a rise in ticks comes an uptick in Lyme disease. The North Country saw reported cases rise from zero in 2006 to 450 in 2017.

Sporn says she thinks that number will grow each year as ticks continue to expand their territory in the area. "The number of human cases are increasing dramatically each year," she said.

Officials say it's important to give yourself a tick check from head to toe after returning from the outdoors.

Additional Resources:

Adirondack Watershed Institute

Clinton County Health Department