Cornell UniversityThe Nature Conservancy

Community Leaders

Community Leaders Lakeland Chamber of Commerce (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)Formal and informal leaders initiate community discussion about deer management, provide structure and resources for local decision-making processes, and provide the leadership necessary to sustain community-based deer management efforts despite challenges such as limited resources and navigating stormy political waters. 

Involvement of elected leaders, such as town officials, is important because it legitimizes efforts to address local deer management issues. Informal leaders who volunteer to participate in decision making also are crucial for effective collaborative processes. These individuals often are known and well-respected by some members of the community, make personal connections with people, and therefore exert influence and lend credibility to grassroots citizen initiatives. Community leaders: 

  • foster essential working relationships (e.g., partnerships and informal networks)
  • create decision-making processes with sufficient credibility among stakeholders
  • secure resources (financial, technical, legal, facilitative) needed as all stages of community-based deer management
  • serve as a conduit between residents and local government
  • set a general timeline for the CBDM decision-making process
  • elected leaders may need to initiate any legal changes necessary for deer management, e.g., discharge ordinances
  • during implementation, elected leaders may need to apply for damage permits or obtain permission for access from landowners within the community  

Responsibilities

Phase 1: Problem Definition

  • Elected leaders support stakeholder engagement by helping to identify an engagement process facilitator, a venue for group meetings, and by participating in discussions of which stakeholders to involve in a process.
  • Elected leaders engage informal community leaders to become part of discussions about deer and deer management in the community.
  • Informal leaders may frequently be the ones to bring the need to address a deer management problem to the attention of elected leaders.
  • Elected leaders are often the ones to convene the decision-making body, e.g., the deer committee, and therefore legitimize the process.
  • Informal and elected leaders may help secure expertise and other resources necessary for community discussions and problem definition.
  • Elected and informal leaders may supervise efforts to make community residents aware that discussions about local deer and deer management are taking place.

Phase 2: Decision-making

  • Elected or informal leaders help secure expertise necessary for informed community discussions about various management alternatives.
  • Elected leaders supervise efforts to inform community members of decisions. Informal leaders use their communication networks to increase community awareness of decisions (informative communication).

Phase 3: Implementation

  • Elected leaders supervise efforts to keep community members informed about program implementation (informative communication).
  • Elected leaders secure resources needed to implement decisions.
  • Elected leaders lead or oversee management plan creation and implementation.

Phase 4: Evaluation and Adaptation

  • Elected and informal leaders support community efforts to discuss outcomes of evaluation and assessment.
  • Elected and informal leaders lead or oversee monitoring and assessment activities.
  • Elected leaders supervise efforts to keep community members informed about program revision and continuation (informative communication).
  • Elected leaders secure resources needed to monitor effects and consequences of decision implementation.

Common Questions

Implementing your deer management plan may require the involvement of private firms, non-profit organizations, or local citizens. Please see our list of experts to help you find the appropriate assistance in your area. 

Not every community needs a formal deer management plan, but it is important for your community to consider what might be elements of a deer management program. For example, this includes understanding the impacts that are driving your community’s deer management problem, understanding the data you need and how to collect it, knowing what your goal for management is and how much time and money you can commit and over what time horizon.

Stakeholder engagement can be accomplished in many ways, so it does not look exactly the same in every community. Some communities get input from public meetings or comments on proposed actions; some collect information using surveys of community residents. Other communities involve stakeholders more directly, using in face-to-face deliberations like focus groups or workshops. Over time communities may gather information using a combination of several approaches. The best approach for engaging people will depend on factors such as: the level of conflict over deer, the number of stakeholders affected, how interested and aware stakeholders are in the deer management issue, how much information decision makers need from stakeholders, as well as any resource limitations your community might have. For more discussion on this, please see Decker et al. 2002.