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Wednesday, 20 December 2006 00:00

Survey shows more mountain residents enjoy the outdoors

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A statewide survey to gauge support for making hunting on Sundays legal revealed some interesting side statistics on outdoor recreation.

 

North Carolina is one of the last states where it is illegal to hunt on Sundays. The law harkens back to the mid-1800s. The state legislature would have to reverse the law, but has been hesitant due to religious opposition.

N.C. Wildlife Commission sanctioned a statewide survey of both hunters and the general public to measure sentiment on the issue. The survey was conducted via a random telephone poll across the state. In the process of collecting views on Sunday hunting, the survey asked residents about their participation in eight outdoor activities: hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, camping, taking wildlife viewing trips, observing wildlife near home, freshwater fishing, and hunting. Here’s what the results showed:

• Mountain residents were more avid in outdoor recreation than are those in other regions, especially in observing wildlife near home, horseback riding, and hiking.

• Not surprisingly, outdoor recreation users were most active on weekends, with large majorities of recreationists participating on Saturdays and Sundays. They were less active on weekdays, particularly campers and hikers. Anglers were the most active outdoor recreation group on weekdays. Few hikers, campers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers participated on weekdays

• In addition to the types of outdoor recreation people engaged in, the survey asked how many days a year they engaged in the activity. Those who said they hunted and fished did so more frequently than other outdoor users. For hunting, 54 percent said they hunted more than 20 days a year, and 39 percent of anglers said they fished more than 20 days a year.

• The survey also looked at whether people used public or private lands for their form of outdoor recreation. Public lands were more important for hiking, wildlife viewing trips, camping and mountain biking. Private lands were more important for hunting, horseback riding and wildlife viewing near home. Among hikers, 85 percent said they had hiked on public land. Only 43 percent of hunters said they had hunted on public land in the past year. Interestingly, most outdoor users reported using both public and private lands for their activity in the past year. More than 50 percent of hikers had also hiked on private land in the past year. Fisherman were most likely to have used both public and private land in the past year, with 76 reporting fishing on public lands and 62 percent on private land. Mountain bikers were least likely to have used private land, with only 36 percent saying they had biked on private land.

• Outdoors users were asked about conflicts with hunters, which was low overall. Horseback riders were the most likely to have had conflict with hunters, although the numbers were still considered low with approximately 1 in 7 horseback riders reporting a conflict. The survey also gauged whether the conflict was considered major or minor. Hikers and anglers were the most likely to say that the conflict had been a major problem. Interestingly, more hunters reported conflicts with other hunters than hikers and campers did — 6 percent of hunters said they experienced conflict with other hunters. Virtually none of the mountain bikers in the survey experienced conflict with hunters, and very low percentages of campers, freshwater anglers, those who took wildlife viewing trips, and hikers experienced conflicts with hunters.

• Typical conflicts were that the recreationist wanted to be alone, that the recreationist felt unsafe, or that the recreationist simply did not like the presence of hunters. Campers, wildlife viewers near home, hikers, and horseback riders were the most likely to say that the conflict concerned safety. Freshwater anglers and those who took wildlife viewing trips were the most likely to say that the conflict they had experienced was simply the presence of hunters. Those who took wildlife viewing trips, campers, and hikers were the most likely to say that they had wanted to be alone. Those who took wildlife viewing trips and hikers were the most likely to say that the conflict had been that shots scared their children or companions. Freshwater anglers and horseback riders were the most likely to say that the conflict had been that shots scared wildlife or fish.

— By Becky Johnson

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