More communities are experiencing problems associated with overabundant white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) populations. Public acceptance of approaches for managing deer may differ within communities. Although hunting with firearms is a common practice used to manage deer populations, many suburban communities only allow bowhunting. Our objectives were to assess suburban homeowners and bowhunters acceptance of lethal and nonlethal deer management strategies. Additionally, we wanted to determine homeowner willingness to pay for deer management and how long they would be willing to wait for relief to address conflicts caused by deer overabundance. Most homeowners supported using lethal strategies to reduce and manage deer populations. Most homeowners were unaware of the cost (94%) or effectiveness (92%) of birth control agents to manage free-ranging deer populations. Of lethal strategies, bowhunting was preferred. Establishment of a special crossbow season outside the existing archery season received the greatest support by bowhunters and was also acceptable to homeowners. As landscapes progressed from rural to more urban, hunting access, human–wildlife conflicts, and homeowner willingness to pay for deer management decreased. Regardless of management strategy, most homeowners were willing to wait 3–5 years to achieve a desired reduction in the deer population at no cost to them. As costs increased, homeowner willingness to wait decreased. Because exposure, tolerance of deer, and willingness to pay for management varies by landscapes, towns with diverse landscapes should consider developing regional rather than town-wide plans to manage overabundant deer populations.
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Vol. 71 • No. 6