Survey Says: Deer #1 Nuisance Problem in Northeast

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In a survey conducted in September and October 2012 by Responsive Management titled “Public Attitudes Toward and Expectations Regarding Management of Wildlife Problems in the Northeast United States,” deer ranked as the #1 problem. 

Responsive Management, based in Virginia, worked with 13 northeastern state wildlife agencies and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for support and guidance, and during a 2-month period acquired 3,692 completed telephone surveys. The sampling error measured 1.56 percentage points.

More than a third of those surveyed had experienced problems with nuisance wildlife in the past five years. Of those, 34 percent had spent a median amount of $100 to replace the damage, and the mean amount came to $424.96.

For 27 percent of respondents, deer caused damage, followed by woodchuck/groundhogs at 18 percent, and rabbits and squirrels tying at 11 percent.

Here are some of the survey’s findings about how people in the Northeast interact with wildlife:

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A little under half (44 percent) had maintained a birdfeeder

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22 percent fed wildlife other than by a birdfeeder

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18 percent maintained nest boxes or other structures for wildlife

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75 percent had watched wildlife around their home in the past year

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35 percent had photographed wildlife

The shocker

It appears that the general public in the Northeast doesn’t have much of a clue about its state wildlife agencies. The report stated, “Just more than two in five Northeast Region residents (43%) can name their state agency that is most responsible for managing wildlife in their state or can name a close derivative of the agency. On the other end, 57% cannot name the agency.”

Only 11 percent had contacted their state wildlife agency for assistance with nuisance animals. Of those who contacted their state agency, 75 percent indicated they were satisfied with the experience.

Who should pay for removal or relocation services?

When asked who should deal with nuisance wildlife problems, 20 percent said property owners and 27 percent said wildlife agencies. Property owners overwhelmingly opposed paying for removal or relocation of nuisance animals, yet 64 percent did not know where the money to pay for these services came from.

 When they were told that most wildlife agencies do not have budgets for nuisance animal removal or relocation, then 50 percent of the property owners thought they should pay for the service.

What to do about nuisance wildlife?

The report also listed six options for managing wildlife, including lethal force. The most support, 83 percent overall, came for removal and relocation. The second most popular option, legal regulated hunting, garnered 77 percent overall support. Support increased for lethal methods if human safety or human health was a factor.

What to do now?

Since most of the respondents said they preferred the Internet for resources regarding nuisance wildlife, perhaps it is time for state wildlife agencies to address and educate people about the burgeoning population of these animals – from deer to coyotes to squirrels. Also, a report such as this one is great ammo for a wildlife agency’s request to budget for nuisance calls, too.

Read the report “Public Attitudes Toward and Expectations Regarding Management of Wildlife Problems in the Northeast United States.”