Spatial and Temporal Trends of Deer Harvest and Deer-Vehicle Accidents in Ohio
White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus} have been increasing dramatically in the eastern United States, with concomitant increases in impacts resulting from deer browsing and deer-vehicle collisions. In Ohio, the number of deer were estimated at near zero in 1940 to over 450,000 in 1995. We analyzed estimates of deer harvest and deer-vehicle collisions in 1995 for 88 counties in Ohio. These data were also related to county-level spatial data on the length of major highways, urban land, rural land, crop land, forest land, all land, and human population. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the spatial and temporal trends of white-tailed deer across Ohio and to relate these patterns to the formerly mentioned environmental and human variables. For 1995 data, positive relationships existed between the amount of urban land in the county versus the number of deer-vehicle collisions, the amount of forest land in the county versus the number of deer harvested, the human population of a county versus the number of deer-vehicle collisions, and the length of major highways in a county versus the number of deer-vehicle collisions. Negative relationships existed between the amount of crop land in a county versus the number of deer harvested, the amount of crop land versus the number of deer-vehicle collisions, and the amount of urban land versus the number of deer harvested. Nine counties, representing various levels of land-use and human population tendencies, were analyzed for historic trends in deer harvest (1985-1995) and deer-vehicle collisions (1988-1995); in each case, there were substantial rises over the previous decade. Extensions of the resulting regression lines show the possibility for continued increases in deervehicle collisions, especially those with a high human population and forest cover. The dramatic increases in deer populations can be attributed to increasing forest land in the state, more habitat of shrubby land, few predators, mild winters, and the deer's ability to adapt to human-inhabited environments.
Author Institution: Buckeye Valley High School ; USDA Forest Service, Delaware County
The Ohio Journal of Science. v99, n4 (September, 1999), 84-94