Date of Completion

2021

Document Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Rubenstein School of Environmental and Natural Resources

Thesis Type

Honors College

First Advisor

Dr. James Murdoch

Second Advisor

Dr. Anthony D'Amato

Third Advisor

Dr. Brittany Mosher

Keywords

White-tailed deer, management, stakeholder groups, values, views

Abstract

Management of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is a contentious topic across the United States, and Vermont is no exception. Vermont is currently facing a declining number of hunters and growing deer herd that is damaging the landscape. As a result, management plans need to be created that incorporate the values of three stakeholder groups: foresters, wildlife professionals, and hunters. These stakeholders view deer through different lenses and are directly impacted by population levels on the landscape. The goal of this paper is to assess views on white-tailed deer populations and their management in Vermont. The objectives included 1) assessing perceptions of overall herd size and environmental impacts among stakeholder groups, 2) defining what drives hunter satisfaction, and 3) assessing support of six alternative management actions that the state could implement. I collected data by sending an online questionnaire survey to members of each stakeholder group. The total number of completed surveys used in the analysis was 236, which included 27 foresters (56.5% response rate), 21 wildlife professionals (67.7% response rate), and 188 hunters. Objective 1 showed that stakeholder groups clearly differed in their perceptions of overall herd size and effect with foresters and wildlife personnel generally feeling that fewer deer should be on the landscape. Objective 2 also found that profession had an influence on hunter satisfaction, but the strongest model explaining hunter satisfaction was motivation; in particular, harvesting a deer as a main goal to hunting. Objective 3 indicated that the most supported deer management alternative was doe harvest using a permit allocation system, such as the one currently used, and the least supported deer management strategy was higher antler point restrictions. Years of hunting experience most influenced the level of support of the six management actions. Those with more experience were generally less supportive of all five strategies than those with less experience. These results show that factors such as experience, importance of harvest as a goal, and profession play a role in satisfaction and support of different management actions and should be considered when developing new management plans for deer in Vermont.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Available for download on Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Share

COinS