Public support of hunting is a key to sustaining this socio-economic activity that contributes to control of game populations. Previous studies have suggested that experience with hunting and hunters may determine acceptance of hunting. An untested assumption is that consumption of game meat is a causal factor in generating positive attitudes toward hunters and hunting. Here we used a survey, sent during 2009 to a random sample of 1,067 Swedish residents, to test the association between non-hunters' frequency of game-meat consumption and their attitudes toward hunting. We found that game meat was consumed at least once per year in 65% of non-hunters' household, and that 80% of non-hunters expressed favorable attitudes toward hunting. Game-meat consumption and social relationships were the key factors associated with positive attitudes toward hunting. Our findings suggest game-meat consumption to be an important reason that hunting is well accepted in the Swedish society. We suggest that increased distribution and availability of game meat to non-hunters will increase the likelihood that positive attitudes toward hunters and hunting will be sustained. Our findings are from Sweden, where meat from wild game can freely be distributed and traded; yet, the results can be considered as catalysts for discussion about sale of game meat in countries where it now is illegal. © 2012 The Wildlife Society.
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