Notes on inspiration
I was first inspired to do this piece when I saw these analogous maps for France:
I figured that the USDA data I’d already been digging into had to have the data for the USA, and in fact, it did!
The data has holes in it–a county may appear one year but not the next. I got around this by using the most recent post-2010 data available for each county+animal type. When comparing these values to the human population, I made sure to use the ACS data for that same year.
The aesthetics came together very quickly. I considered doing the thing as Jules Grandin and keeping the maps ultra simple, but ultimately couldn’t resist showing the animal:human ratios instead of just which counties had more animals.
The first map ended up scratching that “ultra simple” itch, but with a bit of a twist. I chose not to show ratios in that one because it already has so much going on–I think adding in gradients of color just would have made it hard to read. I’m also quite proud of my venn diagram legend there!