New York residents are getting the chance to give their opinion on deer populations throughout the state. The state Department of Environmental Conservation announced that the agency and researchers at the Human Dimensions Research Unit at Cornell University are implementing a survey for gathering information on citizens’ preferences on desired deer populations that will help state biologists set deer population objectives across the state.
The survey asks residents about their deer-related interests and concerns, how they would like to see the deer population in their area change over the next several years, and how important deer management issues are to them. “The Department of Environmental Conservation is responsible for managing New York’s wild deer resource for the benefit of all citizens of the state, today and in the future,” Environmental Commissioner Basil Seggos said.
“Understanding how citizens are benefiting from or being harmed by deer and what their values and priorities are with respect to deer management are important parts of fulfilling that responsibility. This survey is crucial to achieve our goals and we are urging all New Yorkers to share their thoughts on this survey.” The survey is being phased in across the state and is currently being mailed out to one third of the state. The rest of the state will be surveyed in 2019.
The Department of Environmental Conservation said the survey results, in combination with data on deer impacts on the forest, will be used to guide deer population management. “Because deer can have profound and long-lasting negative impacts on forest ecosystems and personal property, keeping these impacts at a sustainable level is a top priority for … deer managers,” state environmental officials said.
Previously, the state agency used a citizen task force to involve state residents in the process of determining appropriate deer population size. Each task force was composed of a small group of citizens and represented a wide range of interests, including farmers, hunters, landowners, motorists and more.
In 2015, the Department of Environmental Conservation began collaborating with Cornell to design an improved method for gathering public input. A pilot project that combined a mail survey of the public with a group of citizens similar to a Citizen Task Force showed the difficulty of representing the spectrum of public interests and values in a small group. Since then, the Department of Environmental Conservation decided to adopt a survey-based process.