Date of this Version
A mail survey of residents in suburban northern Westchester County, New York was conducted to determine the nature and extent of deer damage in the county, the importance of deer damage relative to other deer-human interactions, and residents' perceptions of costs and benefits associated with the deer herd. The estimated cost of damage to plantings was quite high, $6.4 million to $9.5 million (depending on the type of assumptions concerning non-respondents). Most respondents used some form of deer damage control (estimated to cost $1.2 to $1.8 million/year), but few people reported their problems to officials. Although these costs were high, health and safety risks were of greater concern to county residents than damage to plantings. Deer have many positive values, but a rough economic cost/ benefit analysis showed that currently the perceived costs (risk of Lyme disease or vehicular accidents, cost of damage) outweigh the benefits. Educational-communications programs which address concerns such as deer-vehicle collisions or Lyme disease would be most beneficial in improving attitudes toward deer.