12 November 2005

Food or Friends?

They way people view wild animals is changing. The traditional view of them as food to be taken by hunting or fishing is increasingly being replaced by a culture that views wild animals as "part of our extended family" to be protected.

In Colorado, animal lovers now outnumber those who see wildlife as primarily existing for man to benefit from through activities like hunting and fishing, according to a CSU study.

• 34 percent believe wildlife exists for personal or economic uses, such as hunting or fishing.

• 35 percent are animal lovers, ranging from wildlife watchers to animal rights advocates, who don't condone hunting or fishing.

• 22 percent don't hunt or fish, but they don't object to people who do.

• 9 percent didn't show much interest in wildlife at all.

The percentage of people who hunt in the mountain states has dropped from 21% in 1960 to 8% in 2001, according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife study.

In the CSU study, Manfredo said, the states with the largest percentage of hunters and anglers are Alaska and South Dakota, where half the people hunt or fish or both.

In California and Hawaii the number is about one in four.

With urbanization today, children go to school with students who don't hunt, he said.

Unless someone in their family hunts, most believe meat comes from the supermarket, not the hoof.

"Hunting requires equipment, a place to go and a social support system," Manfredo said. "Many who were hunters in other states don't find friends here, where it's socially acceptable, and so they quit."

To realize how much of a shift Colorado has made, Manfredo says, look at the size and average income here since the 1940s. Colorado has become urbanized and the lifestyle has changed dramatically, he said.

"If you want to see Colorado 50 or 75 years ago, look at the Dakotas today," he said.

The study surveyed 12,673 people in 19 states, including 641 in Colorado. The full report can be found here.

Vice President Cheney, who was on his fifth annual peasant hunting trip in South Dakota this week, has made very clear where he stands in this debate.


Sotosoroto said...

"Peasant hunting"? Mr. Freud strikes again.

When I look at the poll numbers, I see 65% of Coloradoans who are not against hunting & fishing. That's still significantly above the 35% who are against it. True, 31% of the population doesn't see the need to hunt, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't if beef and pork and chicken weren't provided fresh each morning to their local supermarket.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

The Freudian truth rings so clear, I don't think that I'll correct this particular mistake.