Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

Major Professor

Neelam Poudyal

Committee Members

Lisa Muller, Chuck Yoest


Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a neurological disease affecting deer and elk populations, was recently identified in western Tennessee. Wildlife managers, outdoor recreation planners and other stakeholders in this region are interested in examining how hunters perceive the risk of CWD over time and identifying factors determining their hunting behavior. This study conducted a mixed-mode survey of deer hunters in CWD impacted counties of western Tennessee before and after the 2019 deer hunting season. The first study in this thesis used multivariate logistic regression models to investigate factors affecting hunters’ short- and long-term intentions to hunt in CWD region. Hunters’ intention to hunt in CWD region were positively related with previous experience of hunting in CWD-impacted areas, beliefs on herd reduction strategy to control CWD, concerns regarding potential decline in deer quality, changes in hunting regulation due to CWD, trust in wildlife agency, and confidence placed on CWD information being provided. Public land hunters with concerns regarding deer and human health risks associated with CWD were less likely to hunt in CWD region. These results highlight on how these factors impact short- and long-term hunting intentions. The second study used multivariate logistic regression models to evaluate factors affecting hunters’ acceptability of alternative management actions. Hunter’s acceptability of management actions are significantly related to deer and human health, regulatory changes, trust and confidence on wildlife agency, and experience of hunting in other states with CWD. These results demonstrate the role of trust, perceived risk, and hunters’ demographic characteristics on acceptability of CWD management strategies.

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