Date of this Version
Previous studies in New York, the nation's second leading state in apple production, have contributed much to deer management decisions that give consideration to orchardists' concerns about crop damage. Little information, however, has been reported about orchardists' reasons for adopting or not adopting particular types of deer damage controls or their preference for various forms of possible damage control assistance. Two complementary studies, conducted in early 1987 by the Human Dimensions Research Unit, Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University, have addressed these information needs. A mail survey of orchardists in an important fruit-producing region of southeastern New York indicated that the frequency of deer damage and orchardists' efforts to control damage had increased markedly in the last 5 years. Personal interviews with an independent group of orchardists indicated that most growers were motivated to begin using damage controls when they experienced substantial damage in a young block of trees, which made the rewards of damage prevention more immediate and real. Interviews suggested that damage control choices are influenced not only by orchardists' perception of need, but also by personal characteristics and perceptions of control characteristics. Implications for damage control assistance programs are that assistance efforts are unlikely to gain wide acceptance among orchardists unless they (1) meet salient existing needs, (2) have clear relative advantage over other methods, (3) are compatible with the user's beliefs and values, and (4) are consistent with the user's communication behavior.