The majority of Finns have a positive view of hunting. In comparison to 2004, positive attitudes have increased while negative ones have decreased, according to a survey by Taloustutkimus Oy, commissioned by the Finnish Wildlife Agency.
The aim of the survey was to discover the Finns’ attitudes towards hunting and compare them, as applicable, to the survey of 2004. The survey consisted of interviews with 15-79 year old Finns, 13 per cent of whom had some experience of hunting. The survey was carried out by Taloustutkimus Oy.
The results of the survey show that the majority (61%) of Finns view hunting in a positive light, while 26% have a neutral view and 13% a negative one. The same trend as in the general attitudes to hunting is evident for different game species. People’s attitudes to hunting are more positive than ever since the opinion poll was started in 1986.
Only attitudes to the hunting of large carnivores are slightly more critical than in 2004. The general opinion is, nevertheless, that it must be possible to control populations of these animals through hunting.
Hunting is generally not considered to endanger populations of game. In this regard, attitudes have not changed since the survey in 2004. The hunting of deer species is viewed in the most positive light. Despite the general positive attitude, berry picking, fishing and mushroom picking still outstrip hunting as a method of utilising natural resources in the Finns’ estimation.
For each category of game species that the survey included, there are more people with positive views towards their hunting than people with negative views. No fewer than three out of four Finns react positively to the hunting of deer species. Men’s views are more positive than women’s in all categories of game hunting.
The Finns who responded were not able to give a clear, unambiguous purpose for hunting. One fifth consider the objective to be game hunting for food and a little less than a fifth regard it as the fulfilment of the instinct to hunt, outdoor recreation or mental refreshment. The purpose of hunting for food was emphasised especially in the responses of under 30-year-olds.
Hunters are also seen as conservationists to a greater degree than in the previous survey. The majority of Finns think that hunters comply with the regulations governing hunting, although opinions on this have become more critical.
The majority of Finns condemn the poaching of large carnivores. Almost one in five, however, accept the poaching of large carnivores when hunting permits cannot be legally obtained. Slightly more than a half of the interviewees are of the opinion that a large carnivore that comes into a yard or garden can be killed. Of the respondents, 34% think that there are too many wolves in Finland, while 41% think there are not.
Residents of Helsinki and the Uusimaa region generally have a more negative attitude towards hunting than people living elsewhere in the country. This difference is especially pronounced when it comes to hunting large carnivores, with 40% of Helsinki and Uusimaa dwellers stating their negative view.
The survey also studied the interviewees’ fear towards bears and wolves. Of the respondents, 46% are frightened of bears and 47% of wolves. The fear of bears is most common amongst Finns living in Western, Eastern and North Finland, while the wolf is feared more often than average in Western Finland. Hunters are more fearful of bears than wolves.
The purpose of the Finnish Wildlife Agency is to promote sustainable game management. Hunting is a way to collect and utilise the game stock produce.