Public Support for Hunting Remains Strong, NSSF Study Shows
94 Percent Agree with 'Right to Hunt'
As sportsmen and sportswomen celebrated the 40th annual National Hunting & Fishing Day last Saturday, a new study shows that the majority of Americans continue to support hunting.
The scientific telephone survey of American adults 18 and older was conducted in early September and commissioned by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry.
Three-fourths of survey respondents (74 percent) said they approved of hunting, a level of support that has not varied by more than a few percentage points since 1995. "The numbers have been consistent over the past two decades," said Mark Damian Duda, executive director of Responsive Management, the research firm that conducted the study. "Support for hunting is solid."
The new study went a step further than previous research, however, revealing extraordinary support for the "right to hunt." No matter what their opinion about hunting, Americans stand firmly behind a person's right to hunt, with 94 percent agreeing it is "OK for other people to hunt if they do so legally and in accordance with hunting laws and regulations." Only four percent of respondents wanted to strip citizens of the right to hunt.
"It's gratifying to see that strong public support for our great tradition of hunting is unwavering," said Steve Sanetti, NSSF president and CEO. "For many of us, it is extremely fulfilling to provide food for ourselves and our families through hunting, even if only on a few days a year. That's one of many reasons why NSSF and others work so diligently to protect hunting."
The survey also revealed that Americans have a taste for eating what sportsmen harvest. Sixty-seven percent of respondents indicated they have eaten some type of wild (non-farm) game meat or fish within the last 12 months. This finding corresponds to people's growing interest about their food sources. Hunters and their families have always known the benefits of eating healthful, hormone-free game meat, and now more people are enjoying cooking and eating game, with some even taking up hunting because it connects them directly with locally acquired, sustainable foods.
The survey also revealed the public was equally supportive of target shooting, with 93 percent agreeing that target shooting is acceptable.
Survey respondents closely matched the age, gender, race and region of the American population 18 and older. Of the hunters in the survey--about 10 percent--the average age was 41. "It remains a goal of the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the many programs it funds to increase hunting participation among all ages, especially by attracting younger participants and former hunters," said Sanetti. "It is they who will carry on this great American tradition and continue to fund the protection of wildlife and habitat."
The billions of dollars generated through hunting license sales and excise taxes on firearms and ammunition, as well as fishing tackle, provide the foundation for wildlife conservation efforts in America. Excise taxes on firearms and ammunition sales alone have resulted in more than $6.8 billion benefiting conservation through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, also known as the Pittman-Robertson Act. One of the objectives of National Hunting & Fishing Day is to raise awareness of the many contributions sportsmen make in this area.