Date of this Version
Montgomery County, Maryland, a 495 square-mile area adjacent to Washington, D.C., is a rapidly developing, highly educated suburban community with one of the highest per capita incomes in the nation. There is increasing concern for the growth and impact of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) populations by agricultural interests, resource professionals and residential landowners. The Montgomery County Council assembled a task force of stakeholders to examine relevant information and propose deer management options. The task force report provided detailed information on the county deer situation, 11 management alternatives, and 9 final recommendations. The county parks administrator appointed a staff member to develop a comprehensive management plan to implement the task force recommendations. Public meetings were held to elicit the views of county residents on the comprehensive management plan using a nominal group process. Implementation of recommendations that included direct herd reduction methods met with favorable response except from animal rights activists. Managed hunts are planned for fall of 1996 while education and improved information-collection efforts continue. The success of the process can be attributed to some key factors including: (1) support of the county government by resolution that provided human, fiscal resources and political resolve; (2) support for a solution by agriculturalists, residential owners and natural resource professionals; (3) an effective task force process with a diversity of stakeholders; (4) an effective education and information program to counter dissemination of inaccurate information; and (5) a structured public meeting process utilizing small-group discussions that allowed for the registration of values, opinions, and attitudes of all stakeholders.