Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Resource Conservation (International Conservation and Development)

Department or School/College

W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Dr. Jennifer Thomsen

Commitee Members

Dr. Alexander Metcalf, Shawn Johnson


urban deer, diffusion of innovation, collective action, community-based deer management, community-based natural resource management


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Natural Resources and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy


Human development and expansion have led to urban sprawl and fewer, less developed areas suitable for wildlife habitat. Populations of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) have adapted to urban communities; however, their prevalence can lead to myriad of ecological and social issues, necessitating communities to pursue comprehensive urban deer management strategies. These strategies have increasingly been pursued via community-based deer management (CBDM) and are an example of collaborative natural resource management (CBNRM). Despite the growth in urban white-tail deer populations and the interactions with humans, there are few studies that explore the CBDM and the acceptability of diverse deer management techniques. Mahajan et al.’s (2020) theoretical framework unifies three distinct social theories, (i.e. collective action theory, governance theory, and diffusion of innovation theory), studies how CBNRM emerges in a community, persists over time, and spreads across geographic scales and to other communities. Two components of this framework, the emergence of CBNRM and the diffusion of CBNRM, were used to guide an investigation into the enabling conditions and potential for various CBDM techniques in Missoula, MT. This urban community nestled in the northern Rocky Mountains of the United States has a growing resident population of urban deer and the community has been unable to find a satisfactory resolution regarding how best to manage the wildlife. Through qualitative data collection, this study indicates that there are enabling conditions (e.g. positive working relationships) and constraining conditions (e.g. lack of shared knowledge and vision, poor political leadership) for the emergence of CBDM in Missoula. Additionally, there are multiple attributes of diffusion of innovation theory (e.g. relative advantage, decision-making, geographic settings) that indicate the success of CBDM in Helena, a nearby city in Montana, are influencing the acceptability of different deer management techniques and the potential for successful CBDM in Missoula. These results provide Missoula residents information on how to move toward engaging in CBDM and indicate that diffusion of innovation theory is an effective tool to study and analyze a novel community’s potential adoption of CBDM.


© Copyright 2021 Taylor Ingle Mudford