Hunter behavior varies in relation to perceived risk of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and changes in perceptions of CWD will lead to changes in behavior over time. During 2018, we surveyed deer (Odocoileus virginianus
or Cervus nippon
) hunters from Maryland, USA, regarding behavioral changes due to CWD. We matched 477 respondents to their harvest record and created two geographical groups based on harvest history in counties closest to disease presence. We compared the proportion of hunters who claimed to have changed their behavior in each group and estimated the effects of CWD on harvest rate for the 4 years immediately after the discovery of CWD and the following 4-year period. We found no difference between the groups in the proportion of hunters who changed their behavior due to CWD. We found a significant decline in harvest rate for hunters who claimed to change their behavior in the group closest to CWD presence during the period immediately after the discovery of CWD; however, these same hunters increased their harvest rates in the next time period to pre-CWD levels. Overall, we found that time alleviates some perceived risk of CWD and that this is reflected in hunting behavior.
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