Saturday, April 13, 2024

Hunting survey recalibrates sights

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A decade since previous poll, questions tweaked to include values and more.
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More wahine hunters, higher food costs, and covid’s impact are all likely to be factors affecting the results in the latest New Zealand Game Animal Council hunting survey project.

The council’s last survey was over a decade ago and GM Tim Gale said the latest survey is likely to reveal some substantial shifts in hunter behaviour and participation over that time.

“From the last survey what the data told us is what hunters’ motivations are, what, when and how many animals they hunted, from which you can then estimate harvest amounts,” Gale said.  

That survey indicated hunters typically killed several species on a single trip, with red deer and pigs often co-targets. Over the course of a year almost 80% of hunters killed a mean average of 16 animals, mostly red deer and pigs.

“This time around we have also tweaked the questions to understand male versus female hunting rates, whether people are part of a club, what conservation work they are involved in and what percentage of public versus private farmland is hunted on.

“We will also look at values. What are they valuing in their  hunting experience?”

The survey design will be similar this time around, with an initial demographic survey followed up by an activity survey for hunters to fill out over the course of the year, completing details of their hunt activity each time they return home.

The previous survey indicated deer were the most hunted, followed by pigs then chamois, with hunters averaging 15 trips a year, usually of about two days a trip. They spent, on average, $3600 a year on equipment. 

This time around Gale said the high cost of food, particularly red meat, is likely to impact on responses. 

“Social media has highlighted how valuable hunting can be. You see videos of someone who has shot a deer demonstrating how much meat they get off it, and the value of that meat, which can be in the hundreds of dollars. It is significantly cheaper to harvest from the hills and farmland than buying it.”

The impact of covid on hunting behaviour has also caused a definitive shift.

“Hunting really took off over covid-19. Hunting stores reported a massive influx at the time of people coming in for hunting and camping equipment and wanting to get back into it because they could not travel overseas at that time.”

NZ Game Animal Council CEO Tim Gale says the survey will help get more insights to hunters’ motivations and their level of club and environmental commitment.

The donation of hundreds of kilograms of wild venison through the Game Animal Council (GAC), and Department of Conservation efforts with local hunters over covid, have also highlighted the value of the activity.

“And we are seeing an increase in the number of wahine women hunters too. It is an empowering activity for them and gives them time out and a chance to provide for their family too.” 

Estimates are NZ’s hunting population comprises 85% men and 15% women, with a growing female base.

Gale said the survey’s data provides a valuable tool to bring to the table when discussing pest control and hunting policy. It helps the GAC to reinforce its case for maintaining a healthy, sustainable level of animals on bush and farmland.

He said given the last survey was done before some social media platforms were as significant as they are today, he expects the response will be even greater this time around. 

The last survey gathered demographic data from 1250 people while the activity survey resulted in 7500 responses.

He said he suspects there will be plenty of farmers keen to participate. The information will be available publicly once the two surveys are completed.

Anyone interested in participating can start the survey here

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