Assessing Effects of Social Capital among Michigan Deer Management Cooperatives

deer with a human handshake in the foreground
project completed

Problem/Need:

Anecdotal observations suggest hunters and landowners are beginning to join together in private cooperatives in an effort to coordinate deer population and management efforts based on commonly held objectives. These objectives appear to often include harvest practices that may coincide with wildlife managers' objectives to reduce deer densities. Managing their land cooperatively through shared management goals, cooperatives are able to affect the deer population and habitat on a larger scale with greater influence through voluntarily coordinated efforts. This project seeks to gain insight into how social networks within deer cooperatives influence individual behavior via the sharing of information, norms, and values. Additionally, it seeks to know why changes in satisfaction between current satisfaction levels and those prior to joining a cooperative vary between cooperative members.

Personnel:

  1. Dr. Brent Rudolph - DNR Principle Investigator
  2. Dr. Dan Kramer- Michigan State University Principle Investigator

Findings/Recommendations:

  1. Efforts to promote formation and successful operation of deer management cooperatives may provide a way for agencies to replicate the improvement to hunter satisfaction documented in this study.
  2. Wildlife managers and organizers of deer management cooperatives should strive to connect hunters in larger, organized groups to promote creation of a shared identity.
  3. In addition to improving internal communication between group members, the knowledge base of cooperatives can be increased by outsiders coming and sharing information. External knowledge may strengthen the information base within the group.

Partners:

  1. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Pittman Roberston Wildlife Restoration Act Grant
  2. Michigan State University - Department of Fisheries and Wildlife
  3. Safari Club International - Michigan Involvement Committee