The 3 top things hunters can do to improve our social licence.
One of the first things we need to establish to answer this question is, what is social licence?
Generally speaking, Social Licence has been defined as the ongoing approval or broad social acceptance of an activity.
This leads to the fact that Social Licence for an activity such as hunting must be earned and then maintained.
This is how we end up in the scenario we see all too often, where a small group of people committing a few bad actions can ruin the social licence of many.
In my opinion one of the problems the social licence for hunting faces, is social media.
With most responsible hunters keeping to themselves there is comparatively extraordinarily little positive information regarding hunting floating around social media.
Further that positive hunting information tends to stay within the hunting community no going viral across social media platforms or coming up on a non-hunter’ news feed.
Whereas negative hunting information and misinformation spreads rapidly across social media, going viral on animal welfare pages, vegan pages and even on climate control pages.
This mass spread of negative information then shows up on the feeds of more everyday people and without any other information being forced into their face, they take the mass of negative information as truth and thus the social licence of hunting erodes away.
Unfortunately, many non-hunters have difficulty in understanding the need to personally kill an animal as demonstrated by the comments in hunting articles stating, “there is plenty of protein available in the shops why do you need to kill an animal?”, and do not need too much negative information to turn them away from hunting or to sign a petition to stop a hunter from continuing to hunt.
This comment along with the apparent social licence for pest animal control by use of bates such as 1080 demonstrates that the non-hunting public are generally ok with the death of an animal, but they can be easily led into the belief that hunting is somehow cruelty or more harmful or disturbing.
If the social licence of hunting is eroding what can hunters do to regain and maintain social licence?
In my opinion the 3 top things hunters can do to stop the erosion of social licence are:
1. Hunters must remain ethical in all actions and ensure suffering is kept to a minimum as cruelty, pain or suffering are the main tools used by animal welfare groups to extract emotion-based decision making from non-hunters.
2. Spread evidence based positive information as far and wide as possible to help the non-hunter come across correct and relevant information which they can use to make informed decisions on hunting.
3. Share your positive hunting stories with non-hunters. Animal activist groups are well skilled in using emotion-based tactics it is time hunters start to do the same. What speaks louder than words – Great Food! Share your spoils from hunting.
An interesting article – https://www.raincoast.org/2021/02/research-the-eroding-social-license-to-hunt-carnivores/