Approximately one in 80 humans was a legal hunter in Europe in 20101. It is estimated that 25 million birds were illegally trapped in the Mediterranean in 20152. This is the tip of 21st century hunting and trapping in Europe, where their management has been replete with conflict between various stakeholders in its inability to understand its subject.
The stakeholders involved in hunting and trapping are sociologically complex individuals embedded in institutions and organisations who initiate conflict and build shifting alliances based on abstract ideas of class, nationality, leisure, knowledge and state authority, morality, and contested ideas over the ownership of space and means of achieving their aims. Manifestations of conflict over hunting now include divisive rural-urban discourses, the growth of populist political parties and civic disenfranchisement with policy on the part of hunters, often becoming the basis for a pattern of illegal hunting. Hence, there is an urgency to resolving the status and legitimacy of current hunting activities within the context of the broader socio-political terrain.
On the one hand Conservation, as a political body, is increasingly becoming aware of the importance of taking into account the relationships between human stakeholders that pre-date, or are created by the attempt to manage and regulate hunting. On the other hand anthropological theory and ethnography draw extensively on historical and indigenous hunting, but there is a push for more Anthropology ‘at home’, which in this case would require addressing hunting across Europe in the 21st century.
Researchers from multiple disciplines are disparately working on addressing this complexity, yet there remains a deficit in coherently and comparatively developing a pan-European understanding of hunters, trappers, and related Conservation and Anthropology. That deficit is what this Network seeks to address.