Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Poll: Most Idahoans support hunting

F&G survey shows less support for trapping

Express Staff Writer

An Idaho Department of Fish and Game poll released this week shows that while most Idaho residents are personally interested in fish and wildlife in the state, a much lower percentage are interested in actually hunting, fishing or trapping.

The department conducted a survey of 1,655 Idaho residents, 1,059 of which were chosen randomly. The other 606 were what the study called an “oversample” of 200 residents aged 18 to 35 years and a “supplemental” sample of 203 licensed hunters and 203 licensed anglers.

The survey showed that 90 percent of Idaho residents said they were personally interested in fish and wildlife in the state, while 91 percent cited Idaho’s “abundant” wildlife as an important reason to live in Idaho.

However, those surveyed were less than optimistic about the overall hunting experience in Idaho. Sixty-six percent of responders with hunting licenses said they believe the quality of hunting has gotten worse in the state over the past five years. Roughly 20 percent said that they believe the quality has remained steady.

Most anglers—55 percent—said they felt that the quality of fishing has remained steady over the past five years.

The study also showed that an “overwhelming majority” of Idahoans said they supported legal hunting—90 percent—while 73 percent said that they “strongly approved” of legal hunting. An even higher percentage, 97 percent, said they believed fishing should be legal, but approval numbers dropped sharply when the topic turned to trapping.

Sixty-one percent of Idahoans surveyed—including those with hunting and fishing licenses—said they approved of legal trapping. However, more than 27 percent opposed it, and 18 percent said they felt strongly that trapping should not be legal in Idaho.

That trend against trapping continued in other parts of the survey.

When asked how important providing diverse hunting experiences should be to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, 49 percent said it should be a priority. Fifty-one percent of those surveyed said that preserving diverse fishing experiences should be very important to the agency.

Of the 17 issues that responders were asked to prioritize, “providing diverse trapping experiences” got the least amount of public support, with only 22 percent of those surveyed saying that this should be a priority for the agency.

Greg Moore, chairman of Vote No on HJR2, an organization that opposes a proposed amendment to make hunting, trapping and fishing constitutional rights, said the poll results will not likely predict the results of the upcoming election.

“This election is not about a proposal to ban trapping,” he said. “It’s about whether trapping should be established as a constitutionally protected right. That question wasn’t asked.”

However, he said the poll showed that Idahoans do make an ethical distinction between hunting and fishing as opposed to trapping.

(Moore is an employee of the Idaho Mountain Express, but did not participate in the editing of this article.)

Survey responders seemed to be more interested in looking at wildlife than shooting at it. Seventy-eight percent of Idahoans surveyed said they have viewed or photographed wildlife around their homes in the past two years, and 63 percent said they have taken trips to view or photograph wildlife. 

Eighty-six percent said they were interested in seeing wildlife around their homes, and 80 percent said they would like to take a wildlife-viewing trip in the next two year.

In contrast, only 35 percent of those surveyed said they had gone hunting over the past two years. More responders said they were interested in going hunting. More than half said they were at least somewhat interested in hunting, while 42 percent said they were very interested. Forty-six percent of Idahoans said they were “uninterested” in the activity.

Kate Wutz:

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