White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are managed at 2 levels: by federal, state, or local resource agencies on large, heterogeneous landscapes usually >200 ha; and by individual property owners on smaller (generallyha) and more discrete forestlands. This dichotomy results in a management disconnect: regulations controlling deer hunting (seasons and bag limits) are developed by agencies for landscapes the size of deer management units (DMU) and often are not sufficiently area-specific to meet management needs of individual forest landowners. Resource agencies manage hunters and regulate deer abundance by controlling harvest within DMUs, and they use license and permit fees paid by hunters to finance the costs of agency deer management, including law enforcement. Some, such as the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), derive income from timber harvest on landscapes they manage (gamelands) as an additional source of revenue and may use it for habitat enhancement that favors deer and other wildlife species. Most deer management occurs on forestlands where habitat (forage, cover, water, plant composition) is manipulated by landowners. Landowners absorb the costs of management that affect deer habitat, abundance, and impact on natural resources. Costs include herbicide application to control unwanted vegetation resulting from overabundant deer; development and maintenance of roads hunters use to gain access to deer hunting; activities associated with managing deer harvest (posting boundaries, repairing road damage); and measures, including fencing, to protect forest resources from damages caused by overabundant deer. Other costs, like thinning or timber harvest, which produce deer forage, are partially or wholly off set by the sale of resulting forest products. Unlike agencies, costs to forest landowners of managing deer and hunting access are rarely subsidized by hunters (a notable exception was the PGC program to provide deer fencing materials to protect tree regeneration on forest landowner properties), but rather are borne by forest landowners—unless landowners lease hunting rights to hunters for a fee.
The disconnect and resultant emphasis on deer management at the DMU level by agencies rather than individual forestlands favors the priorities of hunters (bigger and more deer) that conflict with those of landowners whose resources and revenues may be negatively impacted by high deer density. The situation results from the history of deer management, which must be placed in perspective along with the importance and influence of stakeholders, who affect an organization’s objectives (Freeman 1984).
deCalesta, David S.
"Opinion Bridging the disconnect between agencies and forest landowners to manage deer impact,"
Human–Wildlife Interactions: Vol. 11
, Article 14.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/hwi/vol11/iss1/14