Urban Deer Management Status within the United States: A Synthesis of State Wildlife Agencies’ Urban Deer Management Resources

Across the U.S., the presence of white-tailed deer (deer; Odocoileus virginianus) in urban areas can create conflicts with residents (e.g., ornamental plant damage). State wildlife agencies approach urban deer management differently from traditional deer management due to diverse community groups, urban stakeholder viewpoints about deer, and other aspects of wildlife management in urban environments. With this variation in mind, we reviewed deer management resources across the U.S. to understand the current state of urban deer management. Of the 46 states with deer populations, 21 had publicly available deer management plans (DMPs; 46%), 22 had only online urban deer management resources available (48%), and three had no urban deer-related information available even though deer were present (7%). Our synthesis revealed that public input was incorporated in all DMPs including input from traditionally under-represented stakeholders. Of 21 DMPs, 16 (76%) incorporated urban deer management-related programs. Eighteen DMPs (86%) expressed deer impacts on people as a major issue. Subsequently, 13 DMPs (62%) contained focused goals addressing damage and conflict management. Lethal control remained the most common urban deer management tool. States’ online urban deer management resources varied in content, quality, and ease of navigability. Overall, states lacked strategies, protocols, and supplemental resources to effectively address site-specific urban deer management. Our research identified urban deer management gaps in deer management resources, and we provide state wildlife agencies with eight recommendations for integrating urban deer management information. Managers can use our recommendations to help stakeholders address urban deer-related concerns, improve urban deer management materials, and facilitate state wildlife agency-stakeholder collaboration.


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