We used the theory of reasoned action to help understand attitudes and beliefs about lethal management of deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP), Ohio. We used a mail-back survey to collect data from Ohio residents in the surrounding 9-county area. Two strata were defined: residents <10 km from CVNP (near n = 369) and residents = 10 km from CVNP (far n = 312). Respondents indicated that lethal control of deer was acceptable (near 71% ± 4.7%, far 62% ± 5.5%) and taking no action to reduce deer populations was unacceptable (near 75% ± 4.5%, far 72% ± 5.1%). Beliefs about outcomes of lethal control and evaluation of those outcomes proved to be strong predictors of the acceptability of lethal control of deer in CVNP. Lethal control was more acceptable if it was done to prevent severe consequences for humans (e.g., spread of disease, car collisions) or the natural environment (e.g., maintain a healthy deer herd) than to prevent negative aesthetic impacts or personal property damage. Results from the study can be used to assist managers at CVNP as they make decisions regarding alternatives for deer management in the park and to inform others managing abundant deer populations of socially relevant impacts of management actions.
National Park Service