GLEN ARBOR — The park recently posted an alert about the ticks, which can transmit Lyme Disease, on its website and in its visitor newspaper.
“So far on the mainland we’re seeing some, but the numbers are not very high compared to North Manitou Island, which is high high,” said park superintendent Dusty Shultz.
An increase in the number of ticks at the park was first noticed in 2010 and became a concern after Lyme disease cases in Michigan were linked to potential exposure at the park. In 2011, the park hosted a presentation on ticks and Lyme disease and participated in a tick study that also involved researchers and hunters.
In May, after the study showed that Lyme-infected ticks or animals were found at several national park sites, the Michigan Department of Community Health listed the entire Lake Michigan shoreline as a hot spot for ticks and Lyme disease.
The tick population has been moving north along the shoreline on hosts like deer, chipmunks, mice and perhaps even birds. This year’s mild winter allowed more of the small animals — and ticks — to survive.
Ticks are known to like sandy soils and deciduous forest, and hide in grass and leaves until a potential host passes by. The tick then jumps on and tries to bury itself in the skin.
“What we caution is that you wear long sleeves and pants when hiking and that when you come back in, you check for ticks very carefully and shower, of course,” Shultz said. “You can also put Deet-like products on your pant legs and that helps keep the ticks from getting on your clothing. If you stay on the trails and don’t wander off them, the likelihood of having ticks are a lot less.”
If you find a tick that’s likely been attached for more than 24 hours, save the tick and get it checked for Lyme.