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Thursday, August 9 • 3:40pm - 4:00pm
SYMPOSIA-08: Predominance of Venison in a System of Sharing and Consuming Wild-Harvested Meat

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AUTHORS: Amber D. Goguen, Department of Fisheries and Wild, Michigan State University; Shawn J. Riley, Department of Fisheries and Wild, Michigan State University; Göran Ericsson, Department of Wild, Fish, and Environmental Studies, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

ABSTRACT: Wild-harvested meats, such as venison, are used and distributed for their nutritional, economic, ecological, and sociocultural importance in societies throughout the world [1,2]. Sharing and consumption of wild-harvested meat has a positive effect on attitudes toward hunting in rural and urban settings in Sweden, even when socialization to hunters and hunting are controlled for in the analysis [3,4]. This evidence suggests that the culturally significant acts of sharing and consuming wild-harvested meat may function to connect hunters and non-hunters. Our objective was to gain a greater understanding of how wild-harvested meat, and wild-harvested venison in particular, is used and distributed by hunters and the people with whom they share. We will report results from three separate studies to discuss the predominance of venison in a system of sharing and consuming wild-harvested meat.

Study 1: We assessed maximum yield of edible, wild-harvested venison and hunter sharing behaviors by including questions on the annual 2013 statewide Michigan Deer Harvest Study [5]. We estimated 11,402 – 14,473 metric tons of wild-harvested venison were procured during the 2013 Michigan hunting season. Of hunters who harvested a deer, 85% shared wild-harvested venison. Hunters shared with an average of 5.6 people (SD = 4.5). Sharing of venison occurred most frequently within tight social networks: members of hunters’ households (68%), relatives (52%), and friends, neighbors, or coworkers (50%).

Study 2: We sought to determine factors predicting venison consumption by including questions in the Michigan State University (MSU) Institute for Public Policy and Social Research’s (IPPSR) Office for Survey Research (OSR) 68th State of the State Survey (SOSS); a longstanding quarterly telephone survey with standardized protocol aimed at providing a statistically robust representation of the Michigan population. A total of 997 telephone interviews were completed. Seventy-two percent of all respondents and fifty-seven percent of all non-hunters reported consuming wild-harvested venison. Of respondents who reported consuming wild-harvested meat, venison was the most popular. The most common reason for never having consumed wild-harvested meat cited by both groups was never having the opportunity, followed by taste and smell, diet/lifestyle, don’t know any hunters, don’t hunt and don’t like venison. Attitudes toward hunting or moral ethical concerns were rarely cited as a reason for not consuming wild-harvested meat.  Hunting experience and strength of relationships with hunters were positive predictors of venison consumption. Being of a race other than white and living in an urban community were negative predictors of venison consumption.

Study 3: We used a mail-back questionnaire, sent to a stratified random sample of Michigan residents in spring-summer 2016, to assess wild meat consumption patterns, attitudes toward hunting, hunters and wild-harvested meat, and hunting associated experiences and relations. A telephone questionnaire was used to assess sources and extent of non-response bias. Ninety percent of respondents reported consuming wild-harvested meat with 56% reporting consuming wild-harvested meat within 12 months prior to receiving the questionnaire. Forty-three different types of wild-harvested meat were identified, of which venison was exceedingly the most popular (89% of respondents reported consuming venison). A majority of respondents strongly agreed that wild-harvested meat was a local, lean nutritious food and sharing and consuming wild-harvested meat were reported as culturally important activities.  Increased frequency of wild meat consumption was a positive predictor of attitudes toward hunting, however, the effect size was relatively small.

Our findings demonstrate a system of sharing and consumption operated by informal institutions appears to have evolved in place of formal markets for wild-harvested meat.  Despite a lack of legal U.S. markets, venison and other meat from wildlife is widely shared and distributed beyond the population of hunters, however hunter social networks bias distribution. From a public health management perspective, the network of sharing we describe also identifies pathways for exposure to zoonotic disease and chemical contaminants from wild-harvested meats, and in particular venison. Wild meat sharing and consumption are culturally important activities to some people and consumption of wild-harvested meat positively effects attitudes towards hunting. Increasing access to wild-harvested meat may be one way to maintain the relevancy of traditional uses and users of natural resources in a changing society.

340 PM pdf

Thursday August 9, 2018 3:40pm - 4:00pm
Assembly Hall A
  • Slides Available Yes

Attendees (3)