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Is recreational hunting humane?

Article ID: 533
Last updated: 02 Dec, 2016
Revision: 4
Views: 4925

Hunting has the potential to result in animals suffering significantly including being; 

  • chased to the point of exhaustion;
  • killed with methods that do not cause a quick and painless death;
  • injured and left to die a slow, painful death.

Thus distress, injury and suffering are highly likely, if not inevitable.

In the best case scenario;

  • a hunted animal would be shot by an experienced, skilled and responsible shooter;
  • shooting would not occur during the breeding season;
  • the animal would be clearly seen and within range to ensure a lactating female is not shot;
  • the correct firearm, ammunition and shot placement would be used;
  • the animal would not be chased at all or if necessary stalked quietly without being alarmed prior to shooting;
  • the death of the animal would be confirmed as quickly as possible and prior to shooting any other animals;
  • if the animal was wounded, it would be located and killed as quickly and humanely as possible;
  • if an error was made and a lactating female was shot, dependent young would be found and killed as quickly and humanely as possible and
  • relevant best practice guidelines would be understood and adhered to.

Hunters are not required to undergo competency assessment for shooting accuracy before obtaining a licence or permit. 

Hunting involves more than just ‘shooting’. Hunted animals are often chased long distances, sometimes by dogs as well as people; arrows and knives are sometimes used to kill animals rather than firearms; other parts of the body are aimed at rather than the head; wounded animals escape without being followed up and dependent young are often left to fend for themselves. The skill level of hunters is highly variable and some are not motivated or required to follow standard procedures or best practice. The consequences of these practices are that many animals will endure significant suffering and a protracted death.

The RSPCA opposes recreational hunting, or the act of stalking or pursuing an animal and then killing it for sport, due to the inherent and inevitable pain and suffering caused.


This website provides general information which must not be relied upon or regarded as a substitute for specific professional advice, including veterinary advice. We make no warranties that the website is accurate or suitable for a person's unique circumstances and provide the website on the basis that all persons accessing the website responsibly assess the relevance and accuracy of its content.
Also read
document What is the RSPCA's view on bow hunting?
document What is the RSPCA's view on recreational hunting?
document Which animals can be hunted for sport or recreation?
document How does hunting affect other animals?
document Is hunting the same as pest animal management?
document Can recreational hunting hinder the management of pest animals?
document Is hunting using shooting a humane way to kill pest animals?
document What is the difference between head shooting and chest shooting?
document Are there any alternatives to recreational hunting that do not involve killing animals?
document RSPCA Policy C10 Hunting of animals for sport

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Is recreational hunting an effective and humane form of pest...     What are the wounding rates associated with duck hunting?