Staff at Department of Food and Resource Economics – University of Copenhagen

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Attitudes towards recreational hunting: a quantitative survey of the general public in Denmark

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What is the attitude of the general public towards hunting? As a recreational activity, hunting stands apart from other forms of outdoor recreation like birdwatching in that it involves the pursuit and killing of wild animals. Today, it is in a tight spot. It has been criticized from animal ethics points of view, but it has also been commended as an activity which allows us to take responsibility for procuring our own food. The paper reports a national survey of the general public using an Internet-based questionnaire sent to a representative sample of the Danish public in 2012 (n=1001). Attitudes towards recreational hunting among the adult general public were examined in relation to gender, age, education, income and residence, association with hunters, hunting conditions, and wildlife value orientations. 43% of the general public had a positive attitude, 31% were indifferent, and 26% had a negative attitude to recreational hunting. Older respondents and rural residents had more positive attitudes towards hunting than younger and urban residents. Some of the conditions under which hunting occurs affected attitudes negatively, especially the hunting of farm-reared and released game birds, hunting organized as a group hunt, and single day leases of hunting grounds. Respondents with a “mutualist” wildlife value orientation had the most negative attitude towards hunting (39%), “distanced” respondents were the most indifferent (44%), and “utilitarians” were the most positive (61%). Assessing levels of public support for recreational hunting is important if we are to gauge whether hunting as a recreational and socio-cultural activity can be sustained. A rethink of hunting as part of the leisure industry should be considered, because the least positive attitudes were found in relation to the commercial aspect of hunting and this could result in tighter regulation with further effects on management practices. Management Implications The public opinions and public preferences concerning recreational hunting are complex. However, this study revealed some factors relevant for regulatory and managerial development in relation to outdoor recreation: age (younger respondents were least supportive of hunting), urbanisation (living in an urban environment enhanced negative attitudes), compatibility of recreational hunting with other outdoor leisure activities.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism
Pages (from-to)20-28
Number of pages9
StatePublished - 2017

    Research areas

  • Distanced, Europe, Hunting attitudes, Urbanized, Wildlife values

ID: 171584099