For decades, passionate outdoors enthusiasts at Responsive Management, The National Wild Turkey Federation, The Truth advertising agency and the Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports have been working to advance support for hunting and shooting sports. This isn’t a selfish endeavor: the positive impact that hunting and shooting sports has on wildlife conservation, habitats and waterways, forest management and even parks and recreation are critical to the continued well-being of our communities and our public lands. The many benefits of hunting and shooting sports include:
- Revenue generation: Hunting permits, fees, and taxes on hunting equipment can generate revenue that is often used to fund habitat conservation efforts.
- Habitat conservation: Hunting can incentivize landowners to conserve wildlife habitat, as healthy habitats provide more hunting opportunities and attract more game.
- Wildlife population management: Hunting can help manage wildlife populations by controlling the number of animals in a given area, which can prevent overpopulation and reduce damage to crops and property.
- Disease control: Hunting can help control the spread of diseases among wildlife populations, as sick animals are often targeted by hunters.
- Scientific research: Hunting provides opportunities for scientific research, such as collecting data on population demographics, migration patterns, and behavior.
- Wildlife monitoring: Hunters can provide valuable data on the abundance and health of wildlife populations, which can inform management decisions.
- Conservation education: Hunting can provide an opportunity to educate people about the importance of wildlife conservation and the role of hunters in conservation efforts.
- Sustainable use of resources: Hunting can promote the sustainable use of wildlife resources, ensuring that populations remain healthy and can be harvested in the future.
- Local economies: Hunting can benefit local economies by creating jobs, generating revenue for local businesses, and attracting tourists.
- Cultural heritage: Hunting can be an important part of cultural heritage, providing a connection to the land and wildlife that has sustained people for generations.
However, this isn’t a story that is easily told, especially when trying to navigate heated exchanges between more polarized opinions on the topic. That dynamic is why our teams have joined forces to help shed light on all the positive aspects of regulated hunting and shooting sports. The hope is that this work can add more balance to the conversation while providing additional resources and outlets to those who want to learn more.
What We’ve Learned
As we developed this campaign, we have learned a great deal about the current “state” of hunting and shooting sports in the U.S. But these two points are, perhaps, the most important.
The majority of Americans’ approve of legal, regulated hunting.
Responsive Management’s ongoing trend surveys show a gradual increase in approval since 1995, when approval was at 73% (compared to 81% today).
To be accepted by the majority of Americans, hunters must be ethical, responsible, compassionate individuals who strive to minimize any pain and suffering on the part of the animals they hunt.
Americans’ attitudes toward the use of animals (including through hunting) exist on a continuum of acceptability. At one end of the continuum is the animal rights mindset, which is the belief that animals have rights like humans and should not be used in any way. At the opposite end is the dominionistic mindset, or the belief that animals can be used by humans regardless of the animal’s welfare or rights. The middle of the continuum represents animal welfare — the idea that animals can be used by humans as long as the animal does not experience undue pain and suffering.
Research conducted by Responsive Management shows that most Americans identify as proponents of animal welfare—the middle of the continuum. When given definitions of animal rights, animal welfare and dominionism and asked to select the one that best describes their beliefs, 82% of Americans choose animal welfare compared to 14% who select animal rights and just 4% who identify as proponents of dominionism.
What We’ve Concluded
Regardless of where you live and what game you hunt, all individuals and groups who consider themselves stewards of our hunting heritage have common, binding ideals.
Over the last 70 years, the population of the U.S. has increased by almost 170 million people. Yet the number of hunters has not kept pace with that growth. This means our collective voice has, and is, continuing to shrink. Divided, the community will continue to fade into irrelevance. And with it goes all the critical support and resources hunters and shooters provide to everyone who loves the outdoors lifestyle..
With easy access to multiple digital platforms, it may seem tempting to address these issues at a local level. And while there is value in that approach, true change will come from a united front; a coalition of groups and influences across the nation that are working together to connect with the over 80% of Americans who are receptive to the positive benefits hunting provides.
This is the goal of the “Hunt for Good” campaign.
Like any big project that aims to represent many different factions and ideas, the “Hunt for Good” campaign may not be perfect for everyone right out of the gate. We are embracing an iterative development process and are eager to listen and learn from feedback. More than anything, we need an alliance of agencies, groups and businesses willing to provide support and endorsement during the campaign’s infancy.
For more information about the campaign and to find out ways you can help support it, please contact us.
Thank you to the legion of supporters who are already backing the Hunt For Good campaign.