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Structured decision making as a framework for large-scale wildlife harvest management decisions

December 1, 2016

Fish and wildlife harvest management at large spatial scales often involves making complex decisions with multiple objectives and difficult tradeoffs, population demographics that vary spatially, competing stakeholder values, and uncertainties that might affect management decisions. Structured decision making (SDM) provides a formal decision analytic framework for evaluating difficult decisions by breaking decisions into component parts and separating the values of stakeholders from the scientific evaluation of management actions and uncertainty. The result is a rigorous, transparent, and values-driven process. This decision-aiding process provides the decision maker with a more complete understanding of the problem and the effects of potential management actions on stakeholder values, as well as how key uncertainties can affect the decision. We use a case study to illustrate how SDM can be used as a decision-aiding tool for management decision making at large scales. We evaluated alternative white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) buck-harvest regulations in New York designed to reduce harvest of yearling bucks, taking into consideration the values of the state wildlife agency responsible for managing deer, as well as deer hunters. We incorporated tradeoffs about social, ecological, and economic management concerns throughout the state. Based on the outcomes of predictive models, expert elicitation, and hunter surveys, the SDM process identified management alternatives that optimized competing objectives. The SDM process provided biologists and managers insight about aspects of the buck-harvest decision that helped them adopt a management strategy most compatible with diverse hunter values and management concerns.

Publication Year 2016
Title Structured decision making as a framework for large-scale wildlife harvest management decisions
DOI 10.1002/ecs2.1613
Authors Kelly F. Robinson, Angela K. Fuller, Jeremy E. Hurst, Bryan L. Swift, Arthur Kirsch, James F. Farquhar, Daniel J. Decker, William F. Siemer
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecosphere
Index ID 70193660
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Leetown