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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal neurological disease impacting cervids. The disease can move swiftly through populations, making CWD management a priority for wildlife agencies across the United States. Stakeholder perceptions of CWD may shape behaviors that can negatively impact wildlife agencies. Thus, agencies need comprehensive assessments of stakeholder risk perceptions and enhanced understandings of how perceptions are formed to improve communications. Using a mail- and online-based questionnaire to collect data from September 2020 through January 2021, we surveyed 503 hunters throughout the state of Texas, USA, and 481 Texas landowners who owned property in CWD-affected counties to better understand risk perceptions, knowledge of CWD, and relationships between both elements. Furthermore, we compared risk perceptions across multiple host types and wildlife-related diseases. We documented frequent “don’t know” responses across perceptions and found a negative or no relationship between factual knowledge and risk perceptions, context dependent. As such, results suggest wildlife agencies should consider communications that emphasize actionable knowledge to better encourage preventive action.