A recently released nationwide scientific survey by Responsive Management shows some surprising numbers in the responses of Americans ages 18 and older when asked specific questions about hunting, ethics of legal hunting and others that give solid data for trends compared to previous years.
The survey shows that 79 percent of Americans 18 and older approve of hunting, up five percentage points from 74 percent in 2011. This marks the highest level of support for hunting since 1995, according to data compiled by Responsive Management.
Responsive Management has been tracking trends in public approval of hunting since 1995. Trends have remained generally consistent during this time: 73 percent in 1995, 75 percent in 2003, 78 percent in 2006, 74 percent in 2011, and now at 79 percent (see graph below). At 79 percent, 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 percent, according to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation produced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011. Meanwhile, shooting participation has increased by 18 percent since 2009 according to Responsive Management.
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 this increase is being reflected in support for hunting as well.
Overall, the most recent study found that more than half of Americans strongly approve of hunting (79 percent strongly or moderately approve). At the other end of the spectrum, 12 percent disapprove (strongly or moderately) of hunting. Another 9 percent gave a neutral answer.
Conducted in February 2013, the study surveyed 1,306 Americans 18 and older using random digit dialing and supplemental cell phone sampling. The sampling error is +/- 3.00 percentage points. The survey was the fifth in a series of surveys by Responsive Management to track trends in public approval of hunting.
For more studies and insights on hunting and angling, visit Responsive Management.