A recently released nationwide scientific survey by Responsive Management shows that 79% of Americans 18 years old and older approve of hunting, up five percentage points from 74% in 2011. This marks the highest level of support for hunting since 1995, according to data compiled by Responsive Management which has been tracking trends in public approval of hunting since 1995, which has remained generally consistent during this time: 73% in 1995, 75% in 2003, 78% in 2006, 74% in 2011, and now at 79%. At that rate, approval is the highest since Responsive Management has tracked it.
The reasons for this increase are still unclear, but it may be related to the recent increase in hunting and shooting participation that has occurred. Since 2006, hunting participation has increased by 9%, according to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011). Meanwhile, shooting participation has increased by 18% since 2009 (Responsive Management, 2013).
Other studies on public opinion on hunting conducted by Responsive Management show that the strongest correlation with approval of hunting is knowing a hunter — over and above demographic variables or any other factor. With the increased number of hunters in the field and sport shooters at the range, it is possible that this increase is being reflected in support for hunting as well.
Overall, the most recent study found that more than half of Americans (52%) strongly approve of hunting (79% strongly or moderately approve). At the other end of the spectrum, 12% disapprove (strongly or moderately) of hunting. Another 9% gave a neutral answer.
Conducted last February, the study surveyed 1,306 Americans 18 years old and older using random digit dialing and supplemental cell phone sampling. The sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points. The survey was the fifth in a series of surveys by Responsive Management to track trends in public approval of hunting.
Responsive Management is an internationally recognized public opinion and attitude survey research firm specializing in natural resource and outdoor recreation issues to help natural resource and outdoor recreation agencies and organizations better understand and work with their constituents, customers, and the public. For more information about Responsive Management, visit www.responsivemanagement.com.