Perceived and desired outcomes of suburban deer management methods: Deer Management Beliefs and Expectations

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The Journal of Wildlife Management, ISSN: 0022-541X, Vol: 79, Issue: 4, Page: 647-661

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Rachael E. Urbanek; Clayton K. Nielsen; Mae A. Davenport; Brad D. Woodson
Agricultural and Biological Sciences; Environmental Science
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Disparity among natural resource agencies and the public often arises when white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are managed in suburban areas. To resolve conflicts, managers require information as to why public constituents deem deer management methods acceptable. We surveyed 660 residents in a suburban Illinois county to evaluate attitudes toward 5 deer management methods: archery hunts, gun hunts, sharpshooting, fertility control, and no management. We used the expectancy-value model to determine beliefs and desires regarding outcomes of deer management methods that drove respondent acceptance and rejection toward deer management regimes. We then used multinomial logistic regression models to determine which public beliefs and desires regarding outcomes of each deer management method predicted acceptance of each method. Attitudes of respondents who accepted and rejected each deer management method differed from respondents who were neutral toward the methods (F2,215=3.59-17.93; 0.001≥P≤0.029). The variables most influencing beliefs toward lethal methods regarded whether deer will suffer an inhumane or unnatural death due to the management method (Akaike relative weight ω≥0.95). Beliefs that damage to personal property from deer will decrease drove the acceptance of archery hunts and professional sharpshooting (ω≥0.95). Beliefs regarding the number of deer-vehicle collisions decreasing and deer dying an unnatural death had the strongest support for predicting a person's acceptance or rejection of fertility control (ω=0.98). The desire for a low-cost management technique and deer numbers to remain the same or increase were the strongest predictors for accepting no deer management (ω=0.96). Although the expectancy-value model offers the framework to identify attitudinal disparities among citizens who accept and reject deer management methods, not all of the variables in each model set provided further information on why attitudes toward each deer management method differed among residents. Understanding respondent beliefs and desires regarding outcomes of deer management methods will ultimately allow managers to guide education, resolve some management disputes, and aid in future management decisions that may increase the effectiveness of a deer management regime.