N.W.T. and Yukon partner with tick monitoring app

·2 min read
People living in the N.W.T. and Yukon can now use the eTick app to report tick sightings. The N.W.T.'s environment and natural resources department says the deer tick, which can carry Lyme disease, has not been seen in the N.W.T. (Tyson Koschik/CBC - image credit)
People living in the N.W.T. and Yukon can now use the eTick app to report tick sightings. The N.W.T.'s environment and natural resources department says the deer tick, which can carry Lyme disease, has not been seen in the N.W.T. (Tyson Koschik/CBC - image credit)

People in the N.W.T. and Yukon are now able to report ticks using an app called eTick, which helps researchers collected data and monitor the parasite's populations across the country.

While rare in the North, ticks are not entirely off the list of pesky critters that can cause harm to humans, pets and wildlife. Experts warn that while the risk of an encounter is very low, some factors — like migrating birds and climate change — could bring them north.

Deer ticks, also known as blacklegged ticks, can carry Lyme disease.

Naima Jutha, a wildlife veterinarian with the N.W.T.'s environment and natural resources department, said that deer ticks have not been see in the N.W.T.

"They could come, theoretically, traveling on a dog or on migratory birds or on deer as they start to move further north."

What the app does

Last week, N.W.T.s environment and natural resources department announced its partnership with the eTick app. It allows people to report any tick sightings through photo submission, and helps people identify the type of tick they've found.

Jutha says that ticks found in the Northwest Territories are generally the winter tick, also known as the moose tick. She said climate change might help the species grow.

"In the warmer season where we have a lot of tick activity, if that's lengthening with a changing or warming climate, then theoretically we could start to see ticks more capable of survival in the North."

Why e-Tick is important 

The eTick app partnership is beneficial for residents, Jutha says, but it's even more important for the health of the wildlife in the Northwest Territories.

"Ticks can actually cause significant changes like skin disease and hair loss, even worse, like quite severe illness in moose and sometimes even in caribou."

Jeremie Bouffard, the project manager and coordinator for eTick, said the tick tracking app is also useful for travel outside of the Northwest Territories. If someone is exposed to a tick in another province or territory, the app provides information on that species.

"Although we aren't seeing any species that are very dangerous so far in the territories, this will allow us to spot areas where maybe there's more submissions as the years go by and we want to pay close attention to that location," Bouffard said.

The app is free and was made available to all provinces last year, with Yukon joining the app in April. Nunavut is the only territory in Canada yet to join the app.

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