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Managing Overabundant White-Tailed Deer: Is it Time to Consider Regulated Commercial Harvest?

| July 31, 2014
Male white-tailed deer. Photo by greg Clements, UNl.

Male white-tailed deer. Photo by greg Clements, UNl.

Abstract:

Dramatic growth in the population of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in North America, coupled with declines in the number of deer hunters and limited hunter access have challenged our ability to manage deer populations through regulated recreational hunting. Efficacy of contemporary control methods, especially non-lethal methods, are limited and have been ineffective at reducing deer numbers and associated damage in many areas. Regulated commercial harvest would provide economic incentives to increase harvest of white-tailed deer where they are overabundant.

We discuss regulated commercial deer harvest and explain how it is compatible with the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. We identify several benefits, including reduced number of deer in overabundant populations and associated damage; a source of healthy, natural, green, locally produced protein; economic growth, entrepreneurship, and market expansion; and public engagement and appreciation. We address expected concerns associated with this concept, such as privatization of wildlife; overexploitation; food safety; law enforcement; and challenges with changing laws, regulations, and attitudes. We encourage consideration of regulated commercial harvest in an integrated management paradigm for white-tailed deer in North America.

This is an abstract of the full article published in: Outlooks on Pest Management – February 2014 issue.

The full text of this article is available to subscribers of Outlooks on Pest Management.
Non-subcribers may buy & download fulltext article.

Authors:
Scott Hygnstrom, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska, USA;
David Drake, Department of forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin, USA;
Timothy Van Deelen, Department of forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin, USA;
Stephen Vantassel, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska, USA.

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Category: Animal Health

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