Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Minnesota
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Minnesota Project

Assessing the motivations and constraints of lapsed small game hunters

August 2021 - June 2022


Participating Agencies

  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Rates of hunting participation are declining across the United States (U.S. Department of Interior, 2016). This decline has implications for the long-term financial health of state wildlife agencies that principally rely on hunting license revenues to support both game and non-game management activities. Consequently, understanding the factors that shape citizens’ patterns of participation in hunting, preferences and interest in hunting, and constraints to long-term engagement is critical for ensuring the current funding model employed by the agencies, fostering citizens’ connection to outdoor heritage, and wildlife conservation moreover. Growing emphasis has been placed on activities to recruit, retain, and re-engage hunters and anglers. However, limited scientific scrutiny has been directed toward these activities. Hunter recruitment and retention activities are enhanced with and understanding of the needs, preferences and differences of a diverse target population. For instance, constraints to participation in outdoor recreation have been shown to vary as a function of a variety of lifecourse attributes and socio-demographics including having children, household income, health, age, access to transport and social supports. Understanding the role of these factors, and others, in shaping citizens’ patterns of participation in hunting is critical for effective program design and outreach. Lapsed hunters, defined as individuals that have hunted in the past but have since ceased participation, are a demographic of particular interest for outreach efforts given their apparent existing interest in hunting generally. Enticing these individuals to return to hunting by facilitating the needed social, institutional and economic supports could be an effective strategy for bolstering participation. However, limited scientifically valid knowledge exists regarding the factors that cause hunters to otherwise cease participation, or strategies for alleviating these causes. The objective of this project is to conduct a survey to assess the factors that cause hunters to cease participation in small game hunting including social, economic and institutional constraints, and their likelihood to return to hunting.