Hunting and Non-hunting College Student's Perceptions of Wildlife and Each Other

Hunting has shaped the history of wildlife conservation, but research exploring the relationship between hunting and conservation is new. A decline in the popularity of hunting has spurred research on hunting participation and recruitment, but less is known about how hunting influences societal negotiation of the appropriate roles for humans and wildlife. We addressed this need with a personally administered survey to 320 college students at North Carolina State University (NCSU). The survey sampled 17 courses in eight of the nine colleges at NCSU with 100% compliance rate. Hunters were more likely to view wildlife in utilitarian, dominionistic, and naturalistic ways than non-hunters who tended to view wildlife in moralistic, humanistic, and symbolic ways. Women were more likely to view wildlife in moralistic and humanistic ways than men who tended to view wildlife in utilitarian and scientific ways. Religious respondents were more likely to view wildlife in utilitarian ways than non-religious respondents who tended to view wildlife in scientific and humanistic ways. Non-hunters overestimated the importance of hunting for sport and understated the importance of collecting meat and managing wildlife as motivations for hunters. Hunters overestimated the importance of animal rights as a key motivation for not hunting among non-hunters. These results provide preliminary guidance for tailoring college level wildlife education materials based on hunting participation, religion, and gender. Such efforts could help correct misconceptions regarding motivations for hunting and choosing not to hunt among society's future decision makers.

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