AMERICAN APPROVAL OF HUNTING
If you participate in the great American tradition of hunting, you undoubtedly have a good reason. A variety of factors influence our decision to go out into the field and pursue game. Over the years, society’s view of hunting and it expectations for how it is responsibly managed have changed, but there will always be clear motivations. Responsive Management, a natural resource and outdoor recreation research firm based in Harrisonburg, Virginia, has extensively analyzed these motivations. They’ve completed dozens of surveys on the attitudes towards hunting, fishing, and wildlife. What they’ve discovered on the public opinion of hunting is that Americans have remained consistent in their overwhelming approval of it over the course of the last two decades they’ve studied it. Conducting their latest survey in February of 2015, Responsive Management found that 77% of Americans adults strongly or moderately approve of hunting, up from 73% twenty years ago. Meanwhile, disapproval of hunting is down from 22% in 1995 to 12% today, a drop of 10% which is somewhat surprising given the increase in vocal backlash against hunters. What this means is that while the amount of people who oppose hunting has significantly decreased, anti-hunters have become louder. Animal rights groups have allowed these people to band together to attempt to end a responsible wildlife management technique of which they personally disapprove. Deer hunting continues to have the highest level of approval, at 78%. Estimates from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety find that there are 1.5 million car collisions per year, as well as 200 deaths. Factor in diseases they can carry, and the deer populations in America pose many threats to our safety that are limited by hunters. For every deer hit by a motorist, it’s believed that hunters take six. This would explain why, in Responsive Management’s survey, the most common reason for approval of hunting is to protect humans from harm - at 85%. The hunting of other predators such as bears, wolves, and mountain lions see less support from the general population than deer hunting, but their main reason for existence is the aforementioned safety of the human population. Meat (sustenance) was tied with safety at 85% for the most common purpose of hunting. Humans have always nourished themselves from the harvest of game animals, which provides an excellent source of protein and many other vitamins and minerals. This trend has increased over the last decade, shifted by a variety of factors such as economic recession. Other strong percentages in the survey include animal population control (83%) and property protection (71%). [caption id="attachment_6842" align="aligncenter" width="549"] Chart via Responsive Management[/caption] This survey doesn’t account for many other reasons for why we hunt, whether for the spiritual connection to nature, to supplement income, or purely for recreation. Regardless of your personal reason, hunters would agree that the benefits are numerous and can be easily identified. The key to continually increasing the percentage of Americans that support hunting is to tout these benefits in any way that we can. We can frame it in different ways depending on our audience. The above benefits are a main selling point, but we can also discuss how it positively affects conservation of habitats and allows the animal populations to thrive by avoiding overcrowding and disease. No matter why you hunt, its value is significant and a majority of the public can clearly see that. We should see the approval percentage increase over time, and we will see more people join the over 15 million who currently hunt. What are some of your primary reasons for hunting?