EIC conducts aerial survey of white-tailed deer

January 16, 2013

Rick Simek has roamed University of Michigan-Dearborn’s natural area thousands of times.

He’s trudged through snow to follow animal tracks and waded through puddles to tap maple trees.

But after 18 years at UM-Dearborn, Simek recently experienced the campus’ natural areas from an entirely different perspective. Simek, program supervisor at the university’s Environmental Interpretive Center (EIC) and manager of the natural areas, monitored white-tailed deer populations from 400 feet above campus.

On January 7, Simek, along with alumna Dana Wloch and student Mike Sullivan, conducted an aerial survey via helicopter of white-tailed deer in the campus’ 300-acre environmental study area.

“It was a blast,” Simek said. “It was every bit as fun as I thought it would be. It added another dimension to my experience of becoming better acquainted with this space that I spend so much time in on my feet.”

The survey was conducted as part of the center’s comprehensive strategy to understand the size of the deer herd on campus and the impact they are having on the local floristic diversity and abundance, said EIC Director David Susko.

“This data will help inform us how to best manage this unique green oasis in the coming years,” Susko said.

Simek will continue to analyze data from the aerial survey, in which he spotted a number of deer from the helicopter. Simek hopes the data will help answer questions regarding plant life within the environmental study area.

“We’ve got a lot of questions, so we’re not drawing any conclusions at this point,” he said.

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