By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Reporter
Vision Air Research has done the deer census in Fort Thomas since 2010 and will continue to do so.
Fort Thomas City Administrator Don Martin said the city likes Vision Air’s work. Vision Air Research is based in Boise, Idaho. President and founder Susan Bernatas has more than 18 years of experience conducting such research.
“There are very few companies that have the equipment and expertise to conduct infrared aerial surveys,” Martin said. “Vision Air is highly qualified and is recommended by other municipalities who have used them. Additionally, using the same company to conduct the surveys ensures consistent methodologies are employed which result in more accurate survey results. For example, they fly the same transects, use the same airplane and use the same equipment. They use the same wildlife biologist to conduct the actual counts, so the survey results are more accurate for the purpose of year-to-year comparisons. Having this consistency provides an added measure of credibility to the surveys.”
Bernatas also has eight years of experience working with aerial technologies such as forward-looking infrared (FLIR) to conduct wildlife surveys. Bernatas took on a three-year project to configure sheep population estimates for the United States Air Force.
Vision Air Research has conducted three surveys altogether. The company could not conduct one in 2012 because of heavy snowfall in the area and a warmer spring that caused trees to come out earlier.
The last survey concluded on Jan. 21 of this year. There were not any accidents or injuries reported during the 2012/2013 year. But the deer-related vehicle accidents did increase from 19 to 20 from last year. No vehicle accidents were caused by deer last year, but one bicycle rider did receive injuries after colliding with a deer on Covert Run Pike. The surveys have seen the deer population decrease from 205 in 2010 to 132 in 2011 and 96 this year.
Deer surveys done from January, 2003 to December, 2012 concluded that people are most likely to see deer on Memorial Parkway and Route 8. There have been 42 accidents with deer on Memorial Parkway during that time and 20 on Route 8. Alexandria Pike saw 17 accidents with 12 each occurring on I-275 and North Grand Avenue.
“As long as there are deer in the city, there will be deer/vehicle accidents,” Martin said. “The city is not trying to eliminate all deer from the city. Instead, the city is attempting to reduce the frequency and number of deer/vehicle accidents. Other methods the city may employ has not yet been determined.”