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Beyond citizen task forces: the future of community-based deer management


Public involvement in decision-making associated with wildlife management has progressed considerably over the past two decades. Wildlife managers became more inquisitive about both traditional and emerging stakeholders during the 1980s, a period when studies of key stakeholder groups became increasingly common. During the 1990s, public involvement in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) management decisions shifted towards an emphasis on citizen task forces and similar transactional approaches, and a growing diversity of stakeholders contributed to making deer management decisions. This evolution continues, as communities are now sharing the cost and responsibility for deer management with state and local government agencies under a variety of co-management scenarios. We highlight a case study from Cayuga Heights, New York, where a community-based approach for setting management goals for an overabundant deer herd is currently being implemented. The community scale is appropriate because the impacts of deer are typically recognized by citizens at the local level, and the need for management becomes an issue in local communities. In addition, management actions can be perceived most readily by stakeholders at the community level. Experience is showing that outcomes of co-management at the community level are perceived as more appropriate, efficient, and equitable than traditional wildlife management approaches. Although co-management requires substantial time and effort, this strategy may result in greater stakeholder investment in and satisfaction with deer management.

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