Sunday, August 11, 2013

Public Approval of Hunting Stays High

By Bob Frye; Pittsburgh Tribune Review

So you're a hunter. Are you ashamed of that?

You shouldn't be. Hunters settled this country, explored its frontiers and built a nation. They're the backbone of the North American model of wildlife conservation, too, which operates on the premise that wildlife belongs equally to everyone — no matter whose land it occupies — and that sportsmen pay to support and manage it.

That's a tradition to be proud of.

Too often, though, it seems we're on the defensive. With our world increasingly becoming more urban, and people losing their connection to nature — how many people do you know who keep most of the fish they catch for food, or even plant a garden? – it can seem as if our outdoors sports are going the way of the horse-drawn carriage.

Not so fast.

It turns out a few more of your neighbors are hunting than before. More importantly, most of them — whether they hunt or not ­— are OK with your roaming the woods looking for fair-chase sport.

Responsive Management is a polling firm specializing in wildlife and sportsmen's issues. Recently, it polled people across the nation to determine how Americans view hunting. It did identical surveys four times previously, in 1995, 2003, 2006 and 2011.
Approval of hunting was pretty consistent in those past year. It's ranged from 73 to 78 percent over time.

Today, things are slightly better.

The newest survey found 79 percent of Americans approve of hunting, while 52 percent “strongly” approve.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly why things have improved, said Mark Damian Duda, president of Responsive Management. It could be people are buying more guns and looking to use them, he said. Participation in hunting grew by 9 percent between 2006 and 2011, while participation in target shooting grew by 18 percent.

Just as interesting are the numbers attached to anti-hunters.

We hear about and from them a lot. But there just aren't many of them out there, according to the survey.

Only 12 percent of Americans said they disapprove of hunting, and just 7 percent of them “strongly disapprove.”

Seems like the definition of a vocal minority to me.

Challenges still face us as hunters. From finding ways to get kids away from their video and phone screens to accessing places to hunt to recruiting more followers, we've got problems to tackle.

But at least we can know that are neighbors aren't wishing for our demise while we look for answers.

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