Date of this Version
In spring 1990, as part of an intensified effort to involve the public in wildlife management decisions, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) implemented a new public input program. Citizen task forces were organized in 15 deer (Odocoileus virginianus) management units (DMUs) across the state. The task force purpose was to choose a desired deer population level for their particular DMU. DEC and CCE designed task forces to include a broad range of interests, in order to balance the viewpoints of various groups affected by deer. CCE agents and DEC staff identified groups of "stakeholders" (people with an interest in deer management such as farmers, sportsmen, foresters, conservationists, motorists, tourism, landowners, small business, etc.) in each DMU. CCE agents then selected individuals to serve as members of a citizen task force. The task forces averaged 8-10 members, each member representing a particular stakeholder group. The charge to each member was to contact as many people as practical in his or her stakeholder group and bring their views on deer to the task force. Task force meetings were facilitated by CCE agents. Wildlife biologists from DEC were present to act as technical advisors by answering questions about deer biology and management. In addition, DEC staff presented background information at the first meeting to give each member a basic understanding of the New York State deer management system.