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Keywords:

  • attitudes;
  • Indiana;
  • Odocoileus virginianus;
  • suburban deer;
  • survey;
  • white-tailed deer

Abstract

The Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife created urban deer zones in 1996 that liberalize opportunity and bag limits for Indiana (USA) hunters in areas experiencing increased conflict between humans and deer (Odocoileus virginianus); yet, no comprehensive survey of residents in these areas has been conducted to determine whether the regulations have been effective. A survey was distributed to randomly selected residents of Fort Wayne, Evansville, and Lafayette to determine their opinions on the local deer population, to assess their attitudes toward the present deer population levels, and to gather information on their preferences for deer management. Hunters residing in these areas were also surveyed. Over 87% of respondents indicated that the deer herd had either stayed the same or had grown since urban deer zones were established. Nearly 74% of respondents did not allow hunting on their property, despite it being the most acceptable form of management for white-tailed deer. There were noticeable differences in perceptions of the deer population and management techniques between hunters, former hunters, nonhunters who are pro-hunting, anti-hunters, and animal rights advocates. Additional opportunities (e.g., expanded crossbow use, expanded muzzleloader seasons) were supported by many, while nontraditional techniques (e.g., sharpshooting, trap-and-kill) were not supported. The lack of access to land by licensed hunters will continue to restrict opportunities for state management through traditional hunting and seasons. Nontraditional techniques may be needed in the future; however, substantial work must be done prior to implementation to increase public support for these approaches. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.