Date of Award

5-18-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Journalism and Communication

First Advisor

Joan Ramage

Abstract

The former Seneca Army Depot, located in Romulus, New York is home to a population of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). This population consists of both brown deer that carry the dominant gene(s) for brown coloration and white deer that carry the recessive gene(s) for white coloration (or lack of pigmentation). This population of white deer is leucistic, which is why they lack pigmentation and have brown colored eyes, as opposed to albino deer, which lack pigmentation in their fur coat and eyes. The conservation group responsible for managing this herd, Seneca White Deer, Inc., has been conducting aerial surveys via helicopter, which have been inconveniently costly and unfeasible (Dennis Money, Pers. Comm. 2019). Using airborne imagery, such as a remotely operated unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV/drone technology), we may be able to assist in the monitoring of the population dynamics of the herd within the confines of the former Seneca Army Depot. By collecting population data, including the size and age composition of these deer, we may provide essential information regarding the maintenance and protection of this unique deer population. I used a DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual UAV with visible and thermal photography collected across three seasons in 2019 to assess methods of detecting and monitoring white-tailed deer. While there were some limitations to identifying the deer using this method, lower altitude flights were able to detect some brown-colored and white- colored white-tailed deer in both the thermal and visible photography.

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