Date of this Version
Independent public opinion surveys concerning urban deer (Odocoileus virginianus) management were conducted in two Virginia communities. A total of 346 citizens were interviewed in two Random Digit Dial telephone surveys. In addition to questions concerning management techniques and their administration, participants were asked about their experience with deer, their awareness of problems with deer in the area, and their enjoyment of deer. In both localities, non-lethal controls were preferred over lethal controls; trapping and relocation, fencing, repellents, and birth control measures were favored by a majority of residents. The only lethal control acceptable to residents in both communities was the use of controlled hunts. There was no consensus about who should administer deer management or who should be fiscally responsible. Those aware of deer problems are less likely to report enjoying having deer in the area. Preferences for non-lethal controls and lack of consensus on responsibility for deer management demonstrate the need for public education concerning the costs, consequences, and accountability for deer control. Survey results regarding citizens’ preferences for various management practices demonstrate the challenges wildlife professionals face in assisting communities in developing deer management plans. Wildlife professionals saddled with managing human-wildlife conflicts need to recognize that part of their role is educating the public about the ecology of the animal(s), management techniques, and their implications. As experience with deer problem increases, citizens are likely to enjoy deer less and become increasingly interested in deer management.