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Tuesday, August 7 • 9:20am - 9:40am
Management 2 Track: Strategic Use Of Deer Management Cooperatives In Landscape Conservation Planning

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AUTHORS: Hunter P. Pruitt, Mark D. McConnell, Gino D’Angelo and Bynum B. Boley – Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia; Brian P. Murphy, Quality Deer Management Association

ABSTRACT: Habitat fragmentation and loss are the leading causes of decreasing global biodiversity and create barriers for conservation delivery [1]. Engaging private landowners to achieve landscape-level conservation is widely practiced [2]; however, established mechanisms to encourage voluntary conservation practices are lacking. White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginanus) management by landowners and hunters is an increasingly popular conservation tool available to conservation planners. Annually, 12 million hunters own or lease approximately 356 million acres for hunting purposes [3]. However, targeting deer hunters for landscape-level conservation planning has not been explored. Deer management cooperatives (DMCs) are a novel approach by private landowners and hunters working collaboratively to improve deer herds and hunting quality. DMCs are defined as ‘a group of landowners and hunters voluntarily working together to improve the quality of wildlife (white-tailed deer), habitat, and hunting experiences on their collective acreages’ [4]. By aggregating multiple properties to cooperatively manage collective acreage, hunters and landowners may facilitate a larger, more connected managed land area within the landscape matrix. The potential increase in cooperative habitat management conducted within DMCs may increase conservation value within the surrounding landscape and to conservation planners. Thus, DMCs may provide a method to counter decreasing connectivity between habitat patches, while simultaneously increasing active habitat management within DMC boundaries. We compared land cover percentages between DMCs and adjacent landscapes to illustrate the utility of DMCs as a conservation-planning tool to increase active habitat management that may benefit species other than white-tailed deer within a fragmented landscape. We quantified the habitat composition and configuration of DMCs compared to the adjacent landscape using FRAGSTATS® software. We also sampled 32 DMCs across four representative U.S. states: Georgia (Southeast, USA), Michigan (Northern, USA), Missouri (Midwest, USA), and New York (Northeast, USA). DMCs totaled over 190,000 acres. Land cover was randomly sampled inside DMCs, and within the adjacent landscape, using a fishnet grid. We describe higher amounts of various ‘wildlife centric’ land cover within DMCs in all four states (Fig. 1), along with lower amounts of ‘agriculture centric’ land cover within DMCs in three of four states (Fig. 2). We additionally surveyed DMC participants in the previously mentioned states, with the addition of Texas (Mid South, USA), totaling over 560 responses. Their motives, importance-performance analysis, and willingness to engage in habitat management will be described. Thus, described landscape-level differences, triggered by DMC landowner motivations, may provide conservation benefits to other game and non-game cohabitating species.

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Tuesday August 7, 2018 9:20am - 9:40am MDT
Assembly Hall A
  Management 2
  • Slides Available Yes

Attendees (3)