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Doctoral thesis2023Open access

Past echoes and modern pressures : on the changing ethics of modern hunting in Sweden

Tickle, Lara


What do hunters consider an ethical hunt? 

Ethics are a central part of hunting as it concerns the killing of wildlife. Modern developments are exerting pressures on hunting affecting its practice and ethics. Normative ideals, such as animal welfare and sustainability, are growing in signi-ficance and questioning the legitimacy of hunting, pushing the question of ethical conduct. This research explores how modern developments shape contemporary hunting ethics and examines hunters’ concerns about the emerging dilemmas from various pressures affecting hunting. Exploring the prescriptions that hunters voice in relation to these developments reveals broader ethics and values held by hunters beyond communicated principles of ‘fair chase’ and ‘quick kill’. 

An applied ethics approach is taken, utilizing qualitative empirical data to analyse hunters’ perceptions of their own and other hunters’ ethical conduct in the face of modern developments, specifically technological innovation, commercialisation, demographic change and centralisation. The thesis thus sheds light on how hunters accommodate, reflect on, or resist these developments, providing insight into held values among hunters and their relationship with wildlife.  

Each of these developments are investigated, focusing on ethical issues and the emergence of dilemmas for hunters involving trade-offs between moral principles around fair chase, animal welfare and ecology. Results show that these developments affect how hunting is and should be practiced, causing tensions between different values and perspectives on the purpose of hunting and its continued role in society. The research concludes that ethical principles alone are not enough to guide modern hunters and that the hunting process, which is essential to ethical conduct and experience, is being compromised by modern pressures. Finally, three elements of hunting consisting of effort, knowledge, and purpose, are proposed as a complement to ethical principles to buffer against modern pressures and guide hunters towards an ethical hunting process.


hunting; ethics; wildlife management; modernity; process

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2023, number: 2023:16ISBN: 978-91-8046-084-2, eISBN: 978-91-8046-085-9
Publisher: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Fish and Wildlife Management
    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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