Hunting Figures Don’t Lie But Liars Figure
The interpretation of statistics may be misleading if not analyzed using comprehensive and standardized data. This article from the Coalition to Abolish Sport Hunting examines a handful of specific claims made in the fishing, hunting, and wildlife arenas.
False or misleading claims can be made about survey data if the reader is not aware of appropriate selection methods. For example, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance newsletter of April 2008 claims that the number of female hunters is increasing. However, using consistent foundational data from the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation (published every five years), the number of women hunters actually declined from 2001 to 2006 by 31,000, in spite of a substantial increase in the total population of women. The percentage of women who hunt decreased from 1.08% in 2001 to .97% in 2006.
Common areas of data misinterpretation that can mislead the public include:
- Irrelevant lumping: Overly broad grouping of respondents by any demographic may result in misleading data. For example, data citing expenditures by “outdoor sportsmen” or “recreational outdoor users” reaches beyond expenditures made just by hunters.
- Number of participants reported by state agencies: Data based on license sales may double count participants if a single person applies for multiple licenses.
- Using a broad term and switching the definition of what’s included in that term: “Young hunters” for example, can include different age groups in each state.