Animal Traces and Policy Tracing: The mobilization of municipal wildlife management programs

Authors: John Casellas Connors*, Boston University, Anne Short Gianotti, Boston University, Sara Cavallo, Boston University
Topics: Animal Geographies, Cultural and Political Ecology, Urban Geography
Keywords: policy mobilities, more than human geography, environmental politics
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Expansion of hunting programs for white-tailed deer management in suburban communities has generated controversy about how municipalities should intervene in the populations of nonhumans. As municipalities and residents debate how to address perceived human and environmental risk, they seek out information and assistance from other actors to craft their own deer management plan. Using a policy mobilities framework, we explore the ways that policies of wildlife management are mobilized, replicated and mutated among municipalities. Whereas policy mobilities literature has primarily focused on human actors and sites of human encounters to understand the mobilization and mutation of policy knowledge, we consider how nonhuman actors are also active in this process. Through an analysis of white-tailed deer management programs in several municipalities in the states of New York and Massachusetts, we examine the networked relationships among communities and actors that have implemented management programs. Drawing policy mobilities frameworks in conversation with animal geographies, we explore how the discourse and practices of deer management have been replicated and legitimized in new locations. We draw on textual analysis of policy documents, transcripts and recordings from public meetings, and findings from a municipal survey conducted in both states. The findings reveal how specific practices and logics of wildlife management spread and garner legitimacy in new contexts, with an attention to the role of animals in providing an infrastructure for the transmission of environmental management practices. This expansion of policy mobilities to account for human-nonhuman encounters and nonhuman mobilities offers new approaches to theorize nonhuman agency.

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