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Comparing stakeholder attitudes toward white-tailed deer and rare plant management in Canaan Valley, West Virginia

Flaherty, Kelley L., Turk, Philip J., Anderson, James T.
Global ecology and conservation 2019 v.17 pp. e00519
Odocoileus virginianus, attitudes and opinions, conservation areas, crop damage, education, habitats, herbivores, hunters, landowners, plant communities, plants (botany), rare species, stakeholders, state parks, surveys, wetlands, West Virginia
Canaan Valley, West Virginia, USA provides habitat for many plants considered rare in West Virginia. The local white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus Zimm.) are a popular attraction for visitors as well as resident and nonresident hunters. However, concerns exist over the impact of white-tailed deer herbivory on rare plant communities in the wetlands. We evaluated stakeholder attitudes regarding white-tailed deer management and rare plant conservation by mailing surveys to property owners in Canaan Valley and Tucker County, WV, and providing surveys to visitors at Canaan Valley State Park and National Wildlife Refuge. Individuals that had incurred crop damage were more likely to view the Canaan Valley population as overabundant while nonresident landowners placed higher values on the conservation of rare plants and plant communities in Canaan Valley. We found that hunters were more likely than nonhunters to support white-tailed deer management actions. Results of this survey may help managers to direct management and education goals toward actual rather than perceived stakeholder attitudes.