In a world where many of the large mammal species are faced with extinction because of competition with people and livestock, the sharp increases of deer populations over the last century (in both north America and Europe, Gill 1990), provide a refreshing contrast. These increases are due to a combination of favourable land-use changes (increases in the area of forests and woodland and a reduction in extensive grazing) as well as to an improvement in game management. Measures implemented by hunters' organisations and wildlife professionals, including shorter hunting sea-sons, bag limits, reintroductions of deer, winter feeding and habitat management, have all helped bring about an increase in deer populations and re-present a success story for wildlife management. The resulting high deer populations are, however, now causing significant damage to other interests in the countryside (see for the case of the US McShea et al. 1997), and today the challenge is to include other stakeholders (e.g. foresters, hikers and nature conservationists) in the process of deer management.
This is made difficult by a number of factors, including the urbanisation of the majority of the people in these (democratic) countries, since urbanisation leads to life in surroundings of concrete and plastic, cut off from nature. This lifestyle has obvious advantages, in addition to convenience it encourages the emergence of civic virtues including more care for animals. The downside is that the vast majority of today's citizens in these countries have no personal experience of wildlife and wildernesses, and little under-standing of their ecological functioning. The idea of managing 'bambi' by shooting is unpopular especially among urban people, except among hunters themselves (at least in the United States (chapters in Warren 1997a)), so a wide range of alternatives is being explored, including trapping and re-location, fencing, birth control, reintroduction of natural predators and deer repellents.
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