The tick population in New Jersey could be on the decline if a bill just passed by the Assembly Agriculture Committee becomes law.

The bill introduced by Jersey Shore Assemblyman Ron Dancer appropriates $250,000.00 to establish a pilot program to study and develop methods to control ticks.

Officials estimate as many as 600,000 state residents have contracted Lyme disease from deer tick bites since 2000.

Assemblyman Dancer seeks to rein in the spread with legislation (A5160) that appropriates funding to administer the program and award grants.

“The prevalence of ticks in the landscape has become a legitimate public health concern,” Dancer (R-Ocean). “Lyme disease must be taken seriously. The Legislature should act now, before this becomes an epidemic.”

New Jersey is one of the worst states for Lyme disease, with 37 cases per 1,000 residents and home to at least five species of dangerous ticks responsible for transmitting a half-dozen life-altering and potentially fatal diseases.

A record 5,092 confirmed cases of Lyme was reported in 2017, and health officials estimate the actual number is 10 times that number.

Cases of tick-borne disease have increased by more than 200 percent in Monmouth County.

More Jersey Shore News: