HUNTing for Sustainability- A Summary of Research from Norway


The HUNTing for Sustainability project, funded by the European Union, studies the cultural significance of hunting. It involves cooperation with various institutions and includes case studies from several countries.

These studies encompass the three main aspects of hunting in Norway:

  1. Understanding the cultural meaning of hunting to understand how humans interact with nature.
  2. Study modern hunting using focus groups and interviews to learn people’s opinions on hunting in Norway.
  3. Study lynx hunting from ecological and wildlife management perspective.

The HUNT project aims to use all the collected data to develop practical tools to help wildlife managers set sustainable hunting limits.

Hunting in Norway

Norway is home to diverse natural habitats and many wildlife species, making it an ideal place for hunting. As a result, hunting is a popular outdoor activity for many Norwegians.

The country covers an area of 385,155 square kilometers, with nearly 15% of it being protected.

Norway has a population of 4.8 million; among them, 447,000 are registered hunters. In the 2011/2012 hunting season, 200,800 hunters paid the license fee.

Game species

Big game in Norway includes moose, red deer, wild reindeer, roe deer, and Eurasian lynx.

The small game consists of willow grouse, ptarmigan, black grouse, capercaillie, hazel hen, mountain hare, and beaver. In addition, various waders, ducks, and geese are also hunted in some areas.

Hunting rights

In Norway, land can be state-owned or private, with hunting rights belonging exclusively to landowners. Wildlife, however, is considered state property.

Hunting is not allowed without the landowner’s permission, but landowners can sell hunting permits or lease their land and hunting rights to others.

Hunters must pay a yearly license fee, and first-time hunters must pass a proficiency test with a 30-hour course and exam. Big game hunting also requires a shooting proficiency test.


The Directorate for Nature Management sets hunting seasons for different game species, but landowners can shorten the season.

Local authorities issue quotas for specific species in their area, distributed among landowners based on property size. For certain species, like moose and wild reindeer, quotas are determined by the age and sex of the animals that can be hunted.

rules of the game

Small-game hunting has a minimum age requirement of 16, while big game hunting requires an age of 18.

Firearms, caliber, and ammunition must adhere to the hunt and species standards.

For moose, red deer, and roe deer hunting, a trained tracker dog must track and humanely kill injured animals.

Since 2005, lead shot have been prohibited in small-game hunting.

Hunting from motorized transport is not allowed.

Artificial light is generally forbidden, except for fox hunting on bait.

Hunters As “Steward Of The Land”

Author: Olve Krange, Anke Fischer and Vesna Kerezi

Debates about hunting often focus on the relationship between hunters, wildlife, and the land.

Hunters argue that since humans have interfered with nature, it needs to be managed for both human and nature’s benefit. They believe an ideal balance in nature exists, and hunters have been crucial in maintaining this balance for centuries.

Historically, the relationship between hunters and conservationists has been complex and sometimes marked by conflict.

Hunters Vs. Conservationists

According to hunters, this sets them apart from conservationists, who they perceive as only observing nature.

Hunters argue that humans must engage with nature to be part of it. This idea of stewardship provides a moral justification for hunting and a symbolic connection to the land.

Hunters And Conservationists

Despite differences, hunters and conservationists share common concerns, such as habitat loss and wildlife protection.

The idea of stewardship among hunters suggests a potential platform for increased cooperation between the two groups.

Author: Ketil Skogen

Access to hunting and its commercialization are crucial issues in Scandinavia, where hunting has traditionally been open to everyone at a low cost.

While most hunters don’t challenge the legal link between property rights and hunting rights, non-landowner hunters often view themselves as having moral possession of the land they hunt, especially if they are local or have hunted in the area for a long time.

Moral Appropriation

Moral appropriation of land, regardless of legal property rights, plays a significant role in rural collective identity and emotional belonging. While it can create barriers towards outsiders, it fosters a commitment to stewardship and conservation comparable to legal landowners.

However, it may lead to opposition against the growing commercialization of hunting, which is increasingly pursued by landowners and encouraged by authorities.

The Authenticity of Hunting: Ideas and Practices

Authors: Helene Figari and Anke Fischer

Hunting can technically be defined as shooting or killing wild animals, but in some cases, the act of killing doesn’t appear to be the primary motive.

Instead, hunting represents engaging with authentic nature and the wild embodied in the game.

“Real” hunters gain authenticity from their privileged contact with authentic wildness. Holding back the shot is a small part of some hunting communities’ identity, distinguishing them from less authentic hunters.

Motives for hunting can vary based on circumstances and context. However, regarding identity construction, refraining from shooting is a practical counterpart to one of the noblest motives: bonding with wildlife.

Young Hunters and Reproduction of Working-Class Culture

Author: Ketil Skogen

This study examines the role of the cultural dimension in young people’s first encounters with hunting, focusing on a route closely tied to male working-class culture.

The young hunters expressed deep admiration for their fathers, adult male relatives, and their lifestyle, highlighting a strong sense of continuity across generations.

This is consistent with previous studies on father-son relationships in traditional working-class culture. However, the boys also showed disdain for contemporary youth cultures and emphasized the value of tradition.

These findings contradict popular notions of classless, free-floating identity projects in the post-industrial era. Instead, they suggest that understanding opposition to hunting regulations and dominant norms related to hunting requires considering the broader cultural context.

Legitimising and De-Legitimizing Hunting

Authors: Anke Fischer, Vesna Kerezi, Beatriz Arroyo, Miguel Delibes-Mateos, Degu Tadie, Asanterabi Lowassa, Helene Figari and Ketil Skogen

Debates on hunting often focus on the morality and acceptability of various hunting types and approaches. The study examined argumentation patterns from hunters, non-hunters, and anti-hunters across five European and two eastern African countries.

It found these characteristics were the key factors in determining the legitimacy of hunting.

  1. Hunted animals
  2. Hunting techniques
  3. Motivations

Meat consumption and responsible population control emerged as moral imperatives. Hunting for recreation and excitement was only accepted if these imperatives were met.

The ideas about the legitimacy of hunting are rooted in societal discourses and should be interpreted in that context. There appears to be more overlap between the arguments of hunters, non-hunters, and anti-hunters than commonly assumed.

lynx hunting As Serious Leisure

Author: Ketil Skogen

For some dedicated hunters, hunting is essential to identity and self-presentation. The ‘Serious Leisure’ theory explains how leisure activities can become fundamental to an individual’s or group’s identity, resembling the dedication and knowledge typically associated with professional work.

The study investigates lynx hunting in Norway as a form of serious leisure, where hunters invest significant resources and demonstrate a professional approach to their hobby and a deep emotional passion for hunting.

The analysis highlights the strong interaction between close friendships and professional dedication in the hunting community. This combination of social bonds and professionalism forms an ideal basis for a collective identity project that meaningfully merges traditional and modern practices.

Hunting The Hunters

Authors: John D. C. Linnell, John Odden and Erlend B. Nilsen

Lynx populations in Norway have experienced changes in management over the centuries, transitioning from extermination policies to unregulated harvest and finally to a quota-regulated harvest system introduced in the 1990s.

The current management goal aims to maintain a stable population, balancing population viability and minimizing conflict with livestock.

Quota Hunting System

Since the quota hunting system’s introduction, the lynx population has fluctuated around the management goal, with hunting quotas being the leading cause of change.

The population monitoring system, which relies on counts of family groups and active participation from hunters, has proven effective. Hunters can fill most hunting permits issued under the quota system, and they tend to target a broad cross-section of the lynx population, with males being over-represented.

Cooperation Of Manager

The results indicate that managers have an effective monitoring tool, and hunters can respond rapidly to changes in quota size.

The observed fluctuations are due to time lags in how managers respond to population changes. Developing a prognosis tool to assist with quota setting should minimize this issue in the future.


In conclusion, the analysis within the HUNT project aimed to develop practical tools to assist wildlife managers in setting sustainable hunting quotas, ensuring a more comprehensive understanding of hunting practices and their implications for both society and the environment.