When chronic wasting disease was found in Hampshire County deer in 2005, wildlife officials worried that hunters might go elsewhere.
Their concerns, as it turned out, were unfounded.
A survey conducted by a Harrisonburg, Va., pollster showed that some sportsmen indeed switched to different hunting grounds, but the vast majority stayed put.
The survey, conducted last September and October, targeted hunters who had killed deer in Hampshire County after 2003. Only 10 percent of the respondents said they decided to hunt elsewhere after CWD was discovered.
What's more, only 10 percent of those who had stopped hunting in Hampshire did so because of CWD. In fact, CWD ranked fourth on the list of reasons. The top reasons were age and health (24 percent), other obligations (20 percent) and low deer populations (16 percent).
At first glance, those results might lead one to believe that CWD doesn't scare hunters much at all. Other poll results tell a different story.
Slightly more than half the sportsmen expressed moderate to extreme concern about the disease's presence. The main worries were that the disease might spread to other counties, that it might become more prevalent within the county, and that deer deaths from CWD would eventually affect deer hunting.
Some of the more interesting findings dealt with the Division of Natural Resources' efforts to keep the disease in check.
A large majority (80 percent) believes that DNR officials are doing everything they can to manage CWD within the county. Seventy-three percent believe the DNR's management plan is based on the best available science. Fifty-eight percent believe DNR officials have not overreacted to the problem.
But when questioned about specific DNR rules put into effect to contain the disease, hunters seemed more critical.