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Doctoral thesis, 2014

Traditional use of wildlife in modern society

Ljung, Per


Populations of many large mammals and birds are increasing in many parts of Europe and North America. At the same time, the number of hunters is generally decreasing and an increasing proportion of people live in urban areas. Urban living means less contact with nature and the use of natural resources, and is associated with less utilitarian thinking of wildlife. We used questionnaires to 1) assess non-hunting Swedes' attitudes toward hunting in relation to experience with hunting, both nationally, and in an urban (Stockholm) and a rural region (Northern Sweden), 2) to examine trends in attitudes over time, and 3) to study the use of traps by hunters. Positive attitudes toward hunting were foremost associated with consuming game meat in one's household and having friends or parents who hunt. Positive attitudes were also associated with living rural, being man, being older and having attended university. Of non-hunters, 66% had a close friend who hunted and 65% consumed game meat on at least an annual basis. Non-hunters in Stockholm were, compared to in Northern Sweden, less positive toward hunting, but much of the difference was reduced when controlling for experience with hunting. We found a stable, somewhat increasing support for hunting over time; for example general support for hunting significantly increased from 72% to 84% between 1980 and 2012. A likely explanation for the increase in support is the increase in wildlife numbers that has led to increased damage to motorists, gardeners, farmers, and foresters. Other explanations include changes in hunting practices and legislation as well as the trends of eating local and organic food. Results from the survey of Swedish hunters showed that 15% of the respondants had trapped, and 55% had hunted (without using traps) red fox (Vulpes vulpes), European badger (Meles meles), and/or corvids, during the 12 months prior to the survey. An important motivation for trapping these predators seems to be to increase the populations of other game species. With sprawling cities, rebounding wildlife, and invasive predator species, trapping is expected to be more needed in the future. In summary, the key to maintain hunting support is for hunting to remain relevant to society by providing tangible benefits – such as game meat – and to alleviate negative impacts from wildlife using socially acceptable methods.


attitude; game meat; hunting; non-hunter; predator trapping; questionnaire; support; time series; venison; wildlife management

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2014, number: 2014:25
ISBN: 978-91-576-7998-7
Publisher: Dept. of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Ljung, Per
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies

Associated SLU-program

Use of FOMA data

UKÄ Subject classification

Social Psychology

URI (permanent link to this page)