Betty's Journey

Pittsburgh dataset Project

By Betty Shen

January 30, 2019

For my project essay, I wrote about the overpopulation of deer in Pittsburgh. I am interested in studying deer in this city because encountering wild deer in urban area is something unimaginable before I arrived here in Pittsburgh four years ago. I am astonished by the high chances of bumping into deer. I then tried to search the actual number of deer in Pittsburgh on WPRDC and other websites. It turned out that I could not find the data for the number of deer, but, I did learn that overpopulation of deer is a problem here in Pittsburgh. I then decided to study the troubles and challenges result from overpopulation problem.

After browsing online for a while, I quickly learned several aspects of problems caused by too many deer. The first one is deer-related car crashes. I then found out that Pittsburgh has the third most deer-related crashes nationwide. In turns of visualization of the problem, I found an image showing the distribution of place these crashes taking place. The second problem is that squirrels and birds are deprived of their habitat because deer eat too much leaves, wigs etc, which are shelters of other animals. Some reports also relate the increasing number of Lyme disease diagnoses with the overpopulation of deer. Although Lyme disease is spreading wider each year, there is no correlation found between these two data.

For the reason why deer become overpopulated, I found out in one report saying that according to the data from USDA, city’s four major parks are the optimal habitats for deer. I intend to found the data directly on USDA, but I failed. Another reason contributes to overpopulation is that people feed deer, because feeding deer is legal in Pennsylvania. I also brought in individual’s attitude toward deer that may count for why people like to feed them and protect them.

There are many regrets in this project. For example, I would like to find more data on the distribution of deer habitat and the statistical number of deer over the years. I consider these data vital to study the overpopulation of deer problem and might be the key to truly figure out the core reason of such high speed increase rate.

I am also interested in data about the number of people who have the experiences of feeding deer. I think this piece of date is important in studying the influence of people feeding on deer and how is this action of people impact the growing speed of deer in Pittsburgh. Besides, the impact of deer on other animals is something I can explore deeper, whereas I found little data on this topic.

I think the biggest challenge for me about this project is how to find valid data relating to the question of study I am interested in. For future development of this project, I would like to choose one more specific aspect in which deer caused trouble, for example, the correlation between contacting with deer and the chance of getting Lyme.

Here is my Project: website