Kona: Yes, low turnout is an issue. At our last meeting to finalize the quota, we had 0 members of the public in attendance. Yup, none. Our county isn't that far off others, either. And no, numbers aren't already final at that meeting... our CDAC has changed numbers several times from the preliminary number, usually to satisfy public comments.
One of the metrics provided is herd size estimates, using SAK. It's just another slide in the presentation, and really only was important for the 1st ever meetings. Now the decision is more, less, or the same amount of deer based off the metrics and what the county is willing to tolerate. It doesn't matter if there are 10 deer, or 10,000... if the negative effects become too much of an issue, then it's time to reduce. If not, then keep it the same or grow the herd.
There are 3 words/phrases that when brought up send every hunter into a tailspin to outer space... SAK/deer per square mile/carrying capacity. Mention those, and any chance of a legit discussion flies out the window.
Currently, car/deer accidents are one of the metrics collected and used. I have to say, though, that it's more flawed than most other metrics. I'll just start out by saying you are counting on people to report a car/deer accident to even begin with. Second, in Wisconsin, an accident isn't reportable unless the damage exceeds $1000. Car/deer accidents in most municipalities are self-reported to the DOT by the driver and an officer doesn't respond to the scene unless there are injuries, the deer needs to be dispatched, the vehicle is disabled, there is debris in the road, or there is damage to gov't property. I would say, based on my experience in my job, that fewer than 20% of car/deer accidents get an officer. It's good to know information, but like any of the metrics is only part of the picture... you are looking for trends.
Yes, the seats on the CDAC are for specific stakeholder groups and you need to fit certain qualifications to hold them... that said, the majority of CDAC's are open to interpreting these qualifications. 1st, get elected to your county Conservation Congress and you're eligible to hold either the Chair or Vice-Chair. Join a local outdoor or sporting club and you are eligible for that seat. Landowner? Enroll in the DMAP program and you are eligible for that seat. Drive for work? You could be eligible for the transportation seat. Work for a hotel/motel/restaurant/local gift shop? The tourism seat could be for you. The possibilities are endless. Of course, you can just show up at the meetings as a member of the public too... there is a public comment period at each meeting, and after the meeting most people hang around to talk and answer questions, including the DNR liaisons.