The Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced the results of a public opinion survey, done in cooperation with the University of Delaware and Responsive Management on white-tailed deer. The telephone survey covered a range of topics and will be used to support revision of the department’s deer management plan.
The survey, taken by more than 2,200 individuals representing the general population, landowners and hunters, found that a majority like deer, but a significant proportion of the population are concerned with the negative impacts deer cause.
More than 70 percent of those surveyed think that deer should be hunted to help manage for a healthy population and over half of those surveyed think the department does a good job conserving and managing the deer population.
“White-tailed deer are one of Maryland’s most prominent wildlife species and can be one of the most controversial species to manage,” Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul Peditto said. “Having current information on how the public perceives white-tailed deer and the department’s management of them is essential to crafting an accurate and thorough plan for the coming decades.”
Of the landowners surveyed, more than 75 reported that they had experienced deer damage to agricultural crops. Approximately half of the landowners surveyed reported that damage is increasing. Landowners are most likely to use hunting to help manage and mitigate the damage.
More than 70 percent of hunters surveyed indicated their satisfaction with deer hunting in Maryland has increased or remained the same over the past 10 years. They reported they like to hunt primarily for food, but also for recreation, camaraderie and to help control deer numbers. The majority of hunters reported deer hunting on Sundays and 90 percent of those who hunt deer on Sundays indicated it was important to their success.
The survey also found that only 16 percent of the general population has encountered a deer hunter while they have been outdoors recreating during the past five years. Of those who have encountered deer hunters, only 2 percent indicated the encounter as negative. The majority of non-hunters surveyed indicated that deer season does not cause them to alter their outdoor recreation either on Sundays or other days.