Citizen Science : Join the Annual Deer Survey on April 7th

& the Mini-Workshop for Students!

Volunteer (Adults  & High School Students) Coordintor: William Schuster, Black Rock Forest Exeuctive Director
Mini-Workshop Leader: Robert Fuller, Black Rock Forest Volunteer


Date: Saturday, April 7, 2018
Time: 9:00 AM (please arrive at 8:45AM and duration expected 3-4 hours)
Volunteer Leader: William Schuster, PhD - Executive Director, Black Rock Forest Consortium 
Description: Walk in teams along a transect (adults: 1-2 miles), off-trail, varied terrain.
What to bring: Protective eye-wear (can be sunglasses; safety glasses available - supplies limited), walking poles may be useful, walking/hiking shoes, insect and tick repellent recommended. Bring drinking water and a snack if desired.
Details and Arrival Instructions: Will be emailed prior to event to registered participants.
Additional volunteer opportunity: (NO mini-student workshop): Saturday, April 21.

Mini-Workshop for Students and Volunteer Orientation: 
Volunteers will have an orientation session with Executive Director William Schuster.  Students/Scouts will participate in a mini-workshop with Black Rock Forest Volunteer Robert Fuller to learn survey and sampling techniques, use of a compass and how to walk a transect. We welcome elementary-aged students (5+) in the mini-workshop, high school students and adults may join the volunteer orientation. 

Sampling for Students and Scouts: What to Expect!  - a write-up by Robert Fuller 
(This write-up may be of interest to all who participate in the Annual Survey, not just the students.)

Deer Survey Background: 
Black Rock Forest staff/scientists conduct several deer surveys each spring by walking transects and conducting a deer pellet count to estimate the number of deer in a section of the forest floor. This survey enables Forest scientists to estimate the size of the deer herd and its impact on forest regeneration and biodiversity.This volunteer activity is a unique opportunity to see the forest off-trail before vegetation starts growing.What to Bring/Wear: Drinking water and a light lunch or snacks. Comfortable walking shoes. Insect/tick repellent strongly recommended.
There is no charge for this event. This event is open to the public and to school and scouting groups, RSVP Required.
Inquiries, contact Brienne Cliadakis or call 845-534-4517 ext. 11


Come one, come all to the spring deer pellet count and help evaluate the health of the herd while enjoying a day in the woods.

By Bob Fuller, Black Rock Forest volunteer

Join the Black Rock Forest Annual Deer Survey. Ready for something fun, exciting, different, and interesting? Black Rock Forest’s Annual Deer Survey is that special opportunity to be a citizen scientist. Each year, Forest staff & scientists estimate the size of the deer herd through winter tracking and deer counts. By using herd size estimates from the deer count and winter tracking along with information from the fall deer hunt Forest staff work to keep their deer herd and the forest healthy. When there are too many deer the natural understory vegetation is eaten away, there are no wildflowers or sapling trees, and invasive plants take over. Additionally, the deer suffer from malnutrition and disease.

The survey is conducted via a deer pellet count that uses systematic sampling (a form of statistics) to estimate the number of deer droppings in the forest. The number of deer is then estimated from the number of droppings. Systematic sampling is used as it would be impossible to count every deer pellet pile but you can count samples that are representative of the entire forest.

It’s actually very simple. You count the number of deer pellet piles in 4’ circular segments (50 square feet) of the forest floor (the samples) that are systematically located across all of the forest’s land. Participants count the number of deer pellet piles in each sample while walking parallel paths that are about a mile long. Every 100’ you stop and count the pellet piles in the 4’ radius circle but only in the circle. The key to a good count is to have lots of folks go out to survey and get lots of samples.

The next step is to estimate the total number of deer pellet piles in the forest from the samples that were counted. As an example, if 100 groups go out in a one square mile section of the forest and survey 50 samples each (5,000 samples, 50 square feet each = 250,000 square feet) they will have sampled about 1% of the total amount of land being surveyed. If the groups counted a total of 500 pellet piles in their samples you can estimate that there are 50,000 dropping piles in that square mile.

Now that you know how many dropping piles there are you can estimate the number of deer. The key is to know that deer, on average, produce 25 piles of deer pellets/day over the winter season (from mid-November when the leaves stop dropping until the survey days). That’s almost 4000 piles of droppings for every deer during the winter. Divide the 50,000 pellet piles in the example by the 4000 piles/deer and you get about 12 – 13 deer/square mile.

You don’t have to be experienced, you don’t have to follow the compass bearing exactly, and the samples don’t have to be exactly 100’ apart to get good data. Children up through experienced hikers can participate and all you have to do is to count only the pellet piles in your samples, carefully record the data, and have fun.

Those of us who have done this before have had a great time and many of us hope to do this again. I hope that you to will choose to have a fun, interesting, and rewarding day in the woods helping with the 2018 deer pellet counts.

RSVP to the Annual Deer Survey and Mini-Workshop for Students

Inquiries - Contact Brienne Cliadakis, Assistant Director of Development & Outreach