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The Digital Commons repository is a service of the Colgate University Libraries. Research and scholarly works included in the Upstate Institute collection have been selected by the Upstate Institute in partnership with the Libraries.

Upstate Institute Collection

The Upstate Institute Collection features student research conducted in collaboration with faculty on topics of regional importance. The collection is searchable by keyword or discipline. Visitors may also browse collections of research conducted by students and faculty members.

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Recent Additions to the Upstate Institute Collection

An Economic Assessment of the Impacts of White-Tailed Deer Overabundance in Town of Hamilton, New York
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Across the United States, white-tailed deer populations affect economics in a number of ways. The following paper will focus and expound on a handful of ways that deer populations have an effect on economics:
  1. Disease
  2. Agriculture & home gardens
  3. Hunting
  4. Deer-vehicle collisions (DVCs)
  5. Intangible costs/benefits
  6. Timber productivity (Cote 2004).
This research project will assess the economic stakeholders as they relate to the white-tailed deer population in Hamilton, New York. The research considers biologic data, which assesses the state (whether the population of deer is overabundant, stable, or too low) of the white-tailed deer population. Our deer population data comes from a roadside survey covering a total of 9.27mi2, from the Hamilton aggregate of 41.31mi2 (22.38%); the roadside survey was conducted for a total of twenty-one observation hours (Baez A et al 2013).

Overabundance (or overpopulation) is attributed to a certain wildlife species when it:
  1. affects human life or well-being;
  2. affects the fitness of the overabundant species in question;
  3. reduces the density of species with an economic or aesthetic value;
  4. or, causes dysfunctions in the ecosystem (Gortázar et al 2006).
Our biology team’s data has proven that the deer population is over the sustainable threshold—this conclusion was drawn based on extensive literature research and interviews with experts (Baez A et al 2013). Additionally, our economic results focus on collected data directly from the citizens of the town of Hamilton; we conducted both a telephone and phone survey (Jensen et al 2013).

Our goal is to establish the costs and benefits of white-tailed deer to Hamilton and the surrounding area. Stakeholders include both residents and non-residents because the economy of Hamilton is intricately connected to the broader New York State, as well as the even broader United States economy.

We use research from literature, our colleagues, as well as interviews with experts to determine how the economic stakeholders are affected.

Quantifying the White-Tailed Deer (odocoileus virginianus) Population in the Town of Hamilton, New York
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Since the early 19th century, deer populations across the nation have increased due to a variety of different anthropogenically driven environmental as well as political circumstances. In many places, these deer populations have exceeded both the ecological as well as social carrying capacity. Exceeding these capacities leads to significant negative effects on the ecosystem as well as the general public leading to overall biodiversity loss and an increase in deer-related diseases among other impacts.

In our study, we quantified the local white-tailed deer density in the Town of Hamilton, New York in order to investigate whether local deer populations have reached unsustainable levels. If so, we hope to understand the ecological, medical, social, and economic impact of the overabundant deer population in the town and propose the most suitable and effective deer management strategies for the area.

We conducted a roadside survey covering a total of 24 km2 out of 107 km2 (22.38%) of the town for four consecutive days before the start of hunting season during dusk for a total of 63 observation hours. A threshold at which deer become overabundant and were associated with significant, negative ecosystem impacts was chosen based on previous studies done in areas similar to the Town of Hamilton, NY.

We predicted that land use changes in the past century as well as restricted hunting availability have led to an unsustainable deer population in the area. As predicted, at an average of 16.4 deer/km
2, deer population levels in the area exceed our conservative threshold of 7.7 deer/km2 (t11 =3.32, p =0.00341), indicating that the local deer population is overabundant. In addition, we found that Lyme disease is the most significant deer related disease that afflicts humans in Madison County.