Determinants of Public Perceptions of Suburban Deer Density

Rachael E. Urbanek, Clayton K. Nielsen, Mae A. Davenport, Brad D. Woodson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


As deer management activities increase in developed areas, managers require information regarding which factors contribute to deer acceptance capacity. We surveyed Illinois residents in a suburban county where deer have been proactively managed since 2001 to determine respondent characteristics and perceptions, beliefs, and feelings regarding deer that contribute to public perceptions of deer density. Almost half of the respondents perceived the number of deer as "perfect." We used polytomous regression with AICc model selection to identify variables that contributed to a respondent's perception of deer density. The most parsimonious model (AICc ω =.97) indicated a respondent's perception of changes in deer density, damage to personal property, and the respondent's general feelings regarding deer drove the perceptions of too many or too few deer (as opposed to the perfect number). This article exemplifies the complexity of deer acceptance capacity and aids managers in understanding public perceptions regarding suburban deer density.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-96
Number of pages15
JournalHuman Dimensions of Wildlife
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the McHenry County Conservation District for funding this survey and A. Basten, W. Kummerer, and G. Ryman for their assistance. We thank E. M. Schauber (Southern Illinois University Carbondale) for statistical advice. Reviews from two anonymous reviewers strengthened an earlier version of this article. We also thank the Departments of Zoology and Forestry, the Graduate School, the Colleges of Agricultural Sciences and Science, and the Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.


  • Odocoileus virginianus
  • density
  • management
  • perception
  • survey
  • white-tailed deer


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