Just in time for tick season, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced in its official blog Monday that the animal rights' organization was set to release meat-allergy inducing ticks in the northeastern United States.
But wait -- it was an April Fool's joke. The post, according to PETA, was merely a prank. But some on the North Fork might not find the antics amusing.
"That's sick PETA has always been weird but this is way out there, these tick born diseases are no joking matter. Trust me I have Lyme's it can be a nightmare," wrote Billy Eagle on North Fork Patch's Facebook page.
According to a post on PETA's website, the Lone Star tick causes people to develop an allergy to meat. A person bitten would develop a rash and become uncomfortable after eating meat, the blog said.
PETA then asked how readers would feel about the organization releasing Lone Star ticks in parks in the northeast. The goal would be to help people go vegan or vegetarian, the post read.
"Really, the only pushback we anticipate will be from fast-food companies," PETA's Don Beleav, a biologist, said on the site. "Maybe McDonald's will start handing out free flea and tick collars with its value meals."
PETA also said it was willing to offer the bugs by mail.
But some North Fork residents might not be laughing. In recent years, the population of Lone Star ticks has dramatically therefore expanding the threat of tick-borne diseases.
Southold Town has taken a proactive stance on attempting to mitigate the threat of tick-borne diseases by discussing a town tick task force.
In October, Southold Town hosted a forum featuring the Suffolk County Tick Eradication Task Force, where speakers described their symptoms of Lyme disease.
Symptoms included aches and pains, loss of communication skills, seizures -- and misdiagnosis.
Organized by then-Suffolk County Legis. Ed Romaine, the task force members were there to hear the painful stories and send a strong message — Southold Town and the county could not be silent about the seriousness of tick-borne illness anymore.
“This was the worst year for ticks in 20 years,” said Linda Weir of Peconic, who said she’s been living with Lyme disease since 1979 and went undiagnosed until 2004. “Because I’ve gone on with this for so long, I have kidney and liver problems now. My granddaughter has been bit and was misdiagnosed with Tourette syndrome."
The town continued recently to discuss ways to thin the deer herd and tackle tick-borne illnesses.
Speaking out on the April Fool's caper, PETA said the aim was to raise awareness about embracing a vegetarian lifestyle.
"PETA's Lone Star tick breeding program is as fictitious as a happy elephant in the circus," PETA spokeswoman Nicole Dao told Patch. "Our April Fool's joke is a fun way to draw attention to a serious issue: that with all the delicious meat-free options out there today, you don't have to be left out in the woods—you can go vegetarian."
She added, "In fact, being bitten by the Lone Star tick might be the best thing that happens to some people: If they go vegetarian, they will have lower risks of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity—some of our nation's biggest killers. And they will save more than 100 animals a year from factory farms and slaughterhouses."
Dao said there was no truth at all to the post. "While Lone Star ticks are real, PETA has not intervened in their natural breeding patterns," she said. "We will simply let them go on doing their beautiful thing."
Do you think PETA's April Fool's joke was funny -- or no laughing matter? Share your thoughts in the comments section.