Hudson Valley Legislators' Bill to Address New Tick Threat Signed Into Law

Albany, NY...Legislation (S4876/A8098) sponsored by Assemblywoman Didi Barrett (AD-106) and Senate Agriculture Chair Jen Metzger (SD-42) to protect New York’s livestock industry from the Asian longhorned tick was signed into law by the Governor on Tuesday. The new law directs the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner to include the Asian longhorned tick on the State’s invasive species list and on the DEC’s comprehensive plan for invasive species management, and also directs the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets to develop and distribute to farmers an informational pamphlet on Asian longhorned tick treatment, management, and prevention.

“Due to the significant risks that the Asian longhorned tick may have for New York’s livestock industry, farmers must be made aware of the potential dangers of these invasive pests and armed with information on how to best protect their livestock,” said Senator Metzger, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee. “These ticks flourish in humid, woodland areas, and as our climate continues to warm, their geographic reach will continue to expand across the Eastern Seaboard, and protecting farm animals and outdoor pets is an immediate priority.”

The East Asian longhorned tick—first reported in the United States in 2017—is the first new invasive tick species to enter the United States in 50 years, and is currently found in seven states including in parts of New York. The Hudson Valley and Catskills regions that Metzger represents have the highest incidence of Lyme disease in the state.

As of August 2019, there were no reported instances of the Asian longhorned tick being harmful to humans, but the invasive arachnid can transmit diseases to livestock such as sheep, cattle, and horses, and has also been found on people, pets, and wildlife. In Asia, the species carries a virus that kills 15 percent of victims through hemorrhaging, organ failure, and blood loss. Female ticks can reproduce without mating, laying thousands of eggs after a single feed, in turn covering animals with the external parasites.

Metzger and Barrett’s legislation will also compel public awareness of active ingredients approved by the EPA and DEC, as well as natural remedies and land care practices that are most effective in tick prevention to better protect livestock, people, and pets from exposure.

Earlier this year, Senator Metzger helped secure $250,000 in state funding to address Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses and introduced a bill, passed unanimously by the State Senate, directing the Department of Agriculture and Markets to conduct a public awareness campaign focused on the farming community, with an emphasis on helping farmers and farm workers take preventative measures, recognize symptoms, and determine available treatments.