OK to catch field mice in my woods? Any rules apply?
My community owned and manages 100 acres of mature forest using a cadre of volunteers. We take precautions about ticks, but wish to test the effectiveness of deploying DIY “tick tubes” to reduce tick population. Since this deployment would require an even greater level of volunteer effort, we want to first quantitatively measure its effectiveness in a small “pilot” area (say 5 acres). Our problem is finding a reliable means of measuring tick population density before and after deployment. To ameliorate the effects of independent extraneous variables affecting tick population (e.g., season, recent weather, etc.), we are thinking of catching field mice and counting number of ticks on ears and eyes per mouse caught as our parameter of merit. Again, we actually own this land. Are there any applicable regulations that we must follow in order to catch, handle, and photograph field mice?
Anne Arundel County Maryland
There are science professionals that carefully conduct and manage the type of research you are suggesting and who publish their results.
We are not sure why you would want to try and replicate that on your own.
Rodents can carry multiple serious diseases and could bite. Catching and handling them is not something we would recommend.
However, your question about catching field mice needs to be directed to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. They have a hotline that answers nuisance wildlife and trapping questions: 1-877-463-6497.
You could get a baseline tick count by using what is called a 'drag cloth' which is slowly draped and pulled across plants, to which ticks grab on, and then do your count, but again, we would rely on professional researchers as well as getting as much information known as possible.
The best current info is available on our website, which includes links to active research data from universities in New York IPM, Mass. and Rhode Island.
See here: https://www.extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/ticks-maryland
Also, the incidence of Lone Star ticks locally is rising. Rodent-targeted approaches used for the control of blacklegged ticks aren’t necessarily effective for lone star ticks, since small mammals aren’t major hosts for immature members of this species. By contrast, application of acaricides to deer by means of four-poster feeding stations has reduced the abundance of host-seeking lone star and blacklegged ticks.
Ticks also tend to be more common in areas with lots of invasive species. It may be a better use of your volunteers to do some invasives removal and habitat management closest to the homes.