Boar-hunting season in the Netherlands officially began on 15 October. Besides wild boar, hunters in Holland may shoot hares and rabbits, pheasants, wood pigeons and mallard ducks. With this in mind the Dutch animal rights group Dierenbescherming requested statisticians from Blauw Research to survey the population on the subject of hunting. The group surveyed 1278 people. The result: 97% of Dutch residents disapprove of hunting as a sport.
According to Dierenbescherming, last year in the Netherlands hunters killed 220,000 hares, 128,000 pheasants, 350,000 ducks, 500,000 pigeons and 150,000 rabbits.
Very few Dutch feel that hunters have a right to kill wildlife for sport. In fact the majority (70%) find the sport offensive and wish that it was outlawed. Over half of those surveyed believed that hunting caused unnecessary suffering to animals.
Dierenbescherming hopes that Minister Veerman (or his replacement) of Land, Nature and Fishing will establish a prohibition against hunting. The subject will come up after a review of the Flora and Fauna law next year.
Survey participants also expressed confusion regarding where to find trustworthy information regarding hunting. The Dutch hunter’s association (Jagersvereniging) and the government were considered unreliable sources. Dierenbescherming and the state forest management group (Staatsbosbeheer) were viewed as the most trustworthy sources of information regarding hunting.
The Dutch do find that thinning out populations of animals can be necessary in case of overpopulation or to prevent excessive damage to an environment. However survey respondents did question the ‘need’ for hunting geese and foxes for ‘legitimate’ means.
At least 80% of respondents felt that the government should do more to explore alternative methods of damage or population suppression rather than hunting. Just 5% of respondents felt that the current govermnet under Balkenende was doing enough to protect wild animals in the Netherlands. 43% said they would consider policy regarding welfare of animals when casting their vote in the upcoming general election on 22 November.