Stony Brook College of Business Innovation Center News

Deer herds have been overwhelming Southold Town located on the North Fork of LI. In response Assistant Innovation Center Director Burke Liburt suggested to Jeffrey Standish, Director of Public Works, that SBU may have experts to solve this problem that causes car accidents and Lyme disease on much of Long Island.

With the Town’s interest, Burke set out to find SBU researchers with expertise in measuring the changes over time of the size and migration of the herd.  He found Dr. Heather Lynch, Assoc. Professor, and Lisa Prowant, PhD Candidate in the Department of Ecology. They reported on a variety of sampling techniques for observing animals by people or devices. Lisa had collected data on small animals on LI.

 Burke also found Dr. Joseph Mitchell, Professor of Statistics & Applied Mathematics.  He had developed and published sampling and analysis techniques for geometrical distributions that can characterize animal migrations.

These SBU Ecology and Statistics faculty would be interested in supervising a multiyear research study by a graduate student. Funding of the project would be an issue with costs of $100,000 a year for several years.

The SBU faculty suggested a review of a deer study done at Brookhaven National Laboratory. A meeting with Dr. Timothy Greene, Director of Environmental Compliance at BNL, provided a demonstration of a potentially practical model. Lisa Prowant guided a very productive session.

The ideal time to count deer is one hour before sunset and one-half hour after. (Early morning delivered spotty appearances, and night time presented hazards to staff and deer-flashlights are illegal!). The area is divided into zones of effort using aerial maps. Teams of people (2 per zone) walk or drive through each zone and count; this is done three times over 7 to 10 days in the Spring and again in the Fall.

In year one, the Spring census would show a population reflecting an increase in newborns; the Fall census would provide a base line of the surviving herd.  In year two, the spring census establishes the effectiveness of the culling program: The percentage by which the herd was reduced; shifts in population concentration.

With access to this geographic system with correct layers, it is possible to begin the process of analysis—whether as part of a graduate program yet to be determined. The Town can now make some decisions with information from SBU.



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Stony Brook University Innovation Center, Stony Brook, NY 11794-3775

Phone: 631.632.7171
Fax: 631.632.8181