Friday, August 14, 2015

Valley Forge Park to begin country's first tick tagging & tracking program

Valley Forge National Historical Park, PA--A radical wildlife tracking program is set to begin later this month at the 3,500-acre park that straddles the border of Montgomery and Chester Counties. On August 27, scientists will begin catching, tagging, and releasing hundreds of ticks to better understand the park's expansive population of parasitic arachnids. "We want to know their movements, what animals and people they're mostly attaching to, what they eat," said tick expert Joanna Petrick, a professor at nearby Tredyffrin University. Technology has made this groundbreaking study possible, which is mostly being funded by a grant from the American Revolution Foundation. After catching each tick, a "microscopic tracker"--five times smaller than the diameter of a human hair--will be affixed to the back of each tick. One nearby resident, a financial adviser with no knowledge of the park's fauna, estimates the tick population at around five billion. "I'm basing that number on nothing other than there certainly seems like there are five billion ticks in Valley Forge Park," said the resident. Kids can log onto the park's website and track their favorite ticks, as staff will name the first one hundred tagged and released.