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Regulated commercial harvest to manage overabundant white-tailed deer: An idea to consider?

Authors

  • Kurt C. VerCauteren,

    Corresponding author
    1. United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center, 4101 LaPorte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521-2154, USA
    • United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center, 4101 LaPorte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521-2154, USA.
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  • Charles W. Anderson,

    1. United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center, 4101 LaPorte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521-2154, USA
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  • Timothy R. van Deelen,

    1. Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin, 1630 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA
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  • David Drake,

    1. Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin, 1630 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA
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  • W. David Walter,

    1. United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center, 4101 LaPorte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521-2154, USA
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  • Stephen M. Vantassel,

    1. School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583-0974, USA
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  • Scott E. Hygnstrom

    1. School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583-0974, USA
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  • Associate Editor: Nielsen

Abstract

Declines in hunter recruitment coupled with dramatic growth in numbers of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) have challenged our ability to manage deer populations through regulated hunting. We review the efficacy of current regulated hunting methods and explain how they are unable to reduce deer numbers sufficiently in some environments. Regulated commercial harvest would provide an additional tool to help state wildlife agencies manage overabundant populations of white-tailed deer. We outline potential means to govern regulated commercial deer harvest and explain how it is compatible with the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. We identified several benefits, including reduced overabundant populations of deer; source of healthy, natural, green, locally produced protein; promotion of economic growth, entrepreneurship, and market expansion; and public engagement and appreciation. We also address expected concerns associated with this concept, such as privatization of wildlife; overexploitation; food safety; competition with existing commodities; law enforcement; and challenges of changing laws, regulations, and attitudes. We suggest developing a professional forum to address the issue of regulated commercial harvest of white-tailed deer and other overabundant species of wildlife. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.

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