Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus 2 (RHDV2) is a highly contagious virus that primarily infects rabbits and hares (lagomorphs) and poses a serious threat to lagomorph populations and hunting. Wildlife agencies in the United States rely on hunters to report RHDV2-related mortalities and engage in voluntary biosecurity actions to prevent the spread of RHDV2. From April 2021 to April 2022, we conducted a nationwide survey of 22,511 hunters to ascertain their willingness to engage in voluntary biosecurity actions and support government-mandated biosecurity measures. Respondents expressed greatest willingness to report suspicious lagomorph deaths to wildlife agencies. Respondents' willingness to engage in or support biosecurity actions was positively correlated with their risk perceptions pertaining to lagomorph deaths and the economic impacts of RHDV2, perceptions of the importance of biosecurity, and trust in state agencies to manage RHDV2. We found evidence that respondents' willingness to engage in or support biosecurity actions was also positively correlated with their knowledge of RHDV2. Wildlife agencies should clearly communicate about RHDV2 and its adverse impacts on lagomorphs, biodiversity, and hunting to engage hunters in biosecurity measures. Hunters can provide valuable information about lagomorph population trends and mortality events in the areas they hunt, a cost-effective method to augment agency surveillance.
DATA AVAILABILITY STATEMENT : Deidentified data that support the findings of this study are available at Hannah G. Shapiro and Elizabeth F. Pienaar (2022). Hunters' Willingness to Adopt and Support Biosecurity Actions to Prevent the Spread of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (Version 1) [Data set]. Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7335728.