MaltaToday survey | Majority supports hunting ban

Survey reveals correlation between education and support for hunting restrictions: 38% of those lacking secondary edcuation want hunting to remain legal in both autumn and spring.

James Debono
20 May 2013, 12:00am
A dead falcon (hobby) retrieved in the 2012 season by bird conservationists - birds of prey are victims of hunters who are legally allowed to shoot quail and turtle dove only.
A dead falcon (hobby) retrieved in the 2012 season by bird conservationists - birds of prey are victims of hunters who are legally allowed to shoot quail and turtle dove only.

Of 450 respondents to a MaltaToday survey, fewer than a third would like hunting to remain legal in both spring and autumn. On the other hand, 41% want hunting banned completely, while a further 19% would keep hunting in autumn but ban it in spring.

This means that 60% would either like hunting to be banned entirely or limited to the autumn.

This emerges from our survey conducted in the second week of May, just after the conclusion of the spring season.

This suggests that the Labour Party, which signed a pre-electoral agreement with the hunting lobby, will risk turning public opinion in giving further concessions to hunters.

The survey comes in the wake of widespread illegalities during the spring hunting season, culminating in the deployment of the armed forces to curtail abuses.

This escalation came following the waiver of the €50 spring-hunting license fee and the lifting of an obligation imposed on hunters to wear an armband.

The survey also shows that the absolute majority of PN voters, 18-to-34-year-olds and university-educated respondents would favour a complete ban on hunting.

Significantly, among respondents under 34, an overwhelming 57% would like hunting to be completely banned in both spring and autumn. This suggests that BirdLife's educational campaigns have been more effective with the younger generation. It also suggests greater environmental awareness among younger people.

On the other hand, support for a ban on spring hunting while keeping the autumn hunt is highest for the older respondents and lowest for the younger.

But support for the status quo (hunting in spring and autumn) is practically the same in all age groups, hovering around 30%. This suggests that a strong and consistent minority favours hunting, supported by both major national political parties.

The survey also reveals a correlation between educational achievement and support for hunting restrictions. In fact, support for retaining the status quo is highest among respondents who lack secondary education. In this category, a relative majority, 38%, would like hunting to remain legal in both autumn and spring.

On the other hand, support for a complete hunting ban is strongest, 62%, among respondents with a university education. A further 21% favour a ban on spring hunting. This suggests that hunting is shunned by the country's educated middle-class.

Just 13% of graduates would keep the status quo. Respondents with a post-secondary education are the most likely to favour a spring-hunting ban and allow hunting in autumn.  They are also the most indifferent on this issue, with 21% refraining from expressing an opinion.

Nationalist voters favour hunting ban

Politically speaking, Labour voters are the most likely to support the status quo, while an absolute majority of PN voters favours a complete hunting ban.

This suggests that pro-hunting sentiment is higher among Labour voters, a relative majority of whom support both the spring and autumn seasons. This reflects Labour's closer relationship with the hunting lobby, which dates back to the party's pre-electoral pact with hunters in 1996 and contributed to the PL victory.

In 1998 it was the PN which won back power after signing a deal with the hunting lobby. The strong anti-hunting sentiment among current PN voters could make it difficult for the PN to reach out to the hunting lobby in its bid to regain power in five years.

Labour's allegiance to the hunting lobby was renewed on the eve of the 2013 election, when the party signed a vague agreement with the FKNK promising a review of hunting regulations. 

Labour's pandering to the hunting lobby contrasts with the party's historic role in introducing the first restrictions on hunting in the 1970s under Dom Mintoff.

But even among Labour voters, a majority of 53% either favour a complete or a partial ban on spring hunting. This is particularly the case among younger and university-educated Labour voters.

The survey shows that both PN and PL voters are at odds with their parties' commitment to uphold the derogation on spring hunting. In the 2013 election, Alternattiva Demokratika was the only party which advocated a ban on spring hunting.

Before the election, PL leader Joseph Muscat excluded a referendum on spring hunting, while former PN leader Lawrence Gonzi said that he would consider one.

None of the parties contesting the election advocated an abolitionist stance, the position supported by 41% of respondents.

Support for hunting is also low among the switchers, who voted PN in 2008 and PL in 2013. In this category, 35% favour a complete ban on hunting, and a further 31% want hunting banned in spring. This suggests that Labour faces a quandary on this issue, even if it can bank on the fact that hunters are more likely to change their vote than the anti-hunting majority.


A total of 652 randomly selected respondents were contacted by telephone between Monday 6 May and Thursday 9 May. Of those, 450 answered the survey. The results were weighted to reflect the gender and age of the population. The survey has a margin of error of +/-4.6%.

James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...