|Click sign to enlarge|
Let's skip over the typographical errors--"one eight" and the ticks that are apparently brief cases (attache)--that battle is pretty much lost because copy editing and proofreading are non-existent these days since spell check is all you need, write? The much bigger issue is the text itself so let's unpack what it's trying not to say.
First there is the WARNING. That sounds bad. But that is immediately followed by the somewhat soothing reassurance that ticks are an "integral part of the environment," and we all know the environment is good so ticks can't be that bad. However, if all the ticks on Sandy Hook were suddenly to disappear, nothing bad would happen, unless the Gateway NRA management considers them their passive deer control system, in which case it isn't working anyway. Nothing on the Hook feeds on ticks and ticks, while feeding on mammals and birds, aren't keeping any nuisance populations under control. So that phrase is there to show you management's "green" credentials. The next phrase, "for the most part harmless," is where we start getting the real prevaricating. A lion is, for the most part, harmless--until it attacks you. A gun, is for the most part, harmless--until someone shoots it. A tick does no harm, most of the time, until it does and if they are for the most part harmless, than why is there this sign at all?*
And why do I want to prevent these mostly harmless "creatures" which is a word out of a storybook? Reread the sign. Does it anywhere say anything about Lyme disease or any other tick borne diseases? No, because that would be a bummer and we only want to present a positive face to the public, don't we? Does it tell you that deer ticks are almost impossible to see? No, because virtually invisible, disease-carrying "creatures" is too malevolent a concept to put in a recreation area. Does it distinguish among the other species of ticks that you might find on Sandy Hook? No, because then you might get the idea that whole place is infested with all kinds of creatures carrying all kinds of diseases. Anyone want to talk about chiggers?
So instead, they warn you about ticks but don't really tell you why you should be warned. If you're going to omit the most salient fact about ticks--that they can give you a crippling disease--why put up the signs at all other than to stave off liability concerns?
I've been to lots of parks and refuges with warning signs about ticks. Nowhere else to they claim that they're essentially harmless and every place else they prominently mention Lyme disease. The irony of all this is that I've never picked up a tick at Sandy Hook. They're probably all attached to the deer that are running rampant throughout the peninsula and that have destroyed acres of nesting habitat for birds.
*The phrase "natural areas" is, on a spit of land that has been an army fort and proving ground, missile base, and now a recreation area paved with roads and bike trails, where the channel is constantly dredged and the beaches replenished, is using the word "natural" in its lightest sense.