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Keywords:

  • deer management;
  • Odocoileus virginianus;
  • state wildlife agency;
  • suburban;
  • survey;
  • urban;
  • white-tailed deer

Abstract

Given an increase of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) populations in many urban and suburban areas, deer management has become increasingly controversial. We surveyed deer biologists at state conservation agencies to compare opinions regarding urban and suburban deer management with those found in public surveys. We emailed a survey to deer biologists in 41 states to investigate what agencies are doing to control urban deer, which management techniques have been used in the past and are currently being used, and which techniques are believed to be most effective. Urban and suburban deer populations were increasing in most states (75.8%); accordingly, most biologists (97%) believed that urban and suburban deer were a problem in their state. Sixty-five percent of biologists have not surveyed local communities for their opinions on deer and deer management. Managed archery hunts (85% of states), sharpshooting (68%), and managed firearm hunts (59%) were the most utilized methods during the past 5 years. Biologists ranked managed firearm hunts (54%) as the most preferred method for deer control, followed by managed archery hunt (39%) and sharpshooting (39%). Ninety-one percent of biologists listed deer–vehicle accidents and damage to gardens as primary reasons for managing urban deer populations. Most biologists (88%) indicated that urban and suburban deer management in their state was overall effective. Biologists and public constituents agree on the primary reasons to manage deer, yet their preferences for management options vary greatly. We recommend state agencies survey constituents regarding their beliefs and concerns about deer management beyond questions that simply address the acceptability of management techniques. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.