Title:  Comparing Attitudes of Residents and Nonresidents Toward White-tailed Deer Management in Canaan Valley, WV
Author(s): Kelley L. Flaherty, James T. Anderson – West Virginia University
Year: 2007
Abstract: Canaan Valley, West Virginia is home to the largest high-elevation freshwater wetland complex east of the Rocky Mountains. Its’ outdoor attractions make it a popular vacation and retirement location. The local white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are a popular attraction for visitors as well as resident and nonresident hunters. However, there are concerns over the impact of white-tailed deer herbivory on rare plants and rare plant communities in the wetlands. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the attitudes of residents and non-residents with respect to white-tailed deer management and rare plant conservation. We mailed surveys to randomly selected property owners in Canaan Valley and Tucker County, WV. We also made surveys available to visitors at Canaan Valley State Park and Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Surveys included 25 questions that measured stakeholder responses using the Likert scale. A higher percentage of nonresidents (78%) than residents (57%) believed that there was an overabundance of deer in Canaan Valley (n = 122, p = 0.0128). When compared with residents (58%), nonresidents (89%) were also more likely to agree that rare plants should be protected from the impacts of deer browse (n = 112, p = 0.0001). A higher percentage of residents (75%) than nonresidents (52%) were hunters (n = 156, p = 0.0033). While differences in opinions did differ significantly for many management issues, the majority of residents tended to agree with nonresidents. A strong dichotomy in opinions on management may not be the reality in Canaan Valley.

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