Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version



Effective stakeholder involvement is among the greatest challenges in wildlife management. In this paper, we describe an effort called the Islip Deer Initiative (IDI) to illustrate one approach that wildlife management professionals can take to design a stakeholder involvement strategy. We used a four-step procedure proposed by Chase et al. (1999) as a general guideline for process design. The procedure involves: (1) developing an understanding of the local situation (i.e., preliminary situation analysis); (2) defining the wildlife agency's objectives for stakeholder involvement; (3) selecting an overarching stakeholder involvement approach; and (4) designing context-specific stakeholder involvement strategies. In this case, preliminary situation analysis led to a decision by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to seek a partnership with three other parties to cooperatively manage white-tailed deer (Odocolius virginianus) in an area that includes three state parks, a national wildlife refuge, and a municipal golf course. The wildlife agency identified its objectives for stakeholder involvement in IDI as: (1) improving the management climate; (2) improving the ability of IDI partners to respond to the interests of diverse stakeholders and interested parties; (3) obtaining input for decisions; (4) increasing participation in decision making; and (5) involving stakeholders in action implementation. DEC chose a co-management approach as the overarching stakeholder involvement approach. The agency sponsored a study of Islip residents in areas occupied by deer to obtain information needed to design specific stakeholder involvement strategies. Most residents in the affected areas expressed a strong interest in providing input to local deer management decisions. Most also found it important that any public involvement process to make deer management decisions in Islip should: utilize scientific information, treat all citizens equally, promote communication, and be time- and cost-effective. We describe how these survey results are being used to inform specific involvement decisions in Islip. A review of the techniques used for IDI illustrates a practical approach to stakeholder involvement design and demonstrates how stakeholder surveys can inform design of specific involvement strategies.