Legitimacy and conflict explaining tension in local Swedish hunting policy

Abstract: This thesis investigates how conflicts of interest among local hunting interests affect the legitimacy of the Swedish government's goals on hunting. These goals aim to give non-landowning and small landowning hunters an opportunity to hunt more and bigger game, as well as improving game management. A case-study was carried out in the county of Norrbotten among its Game Management Associations (GMAs) in 2004 to determine which kinds of conflicts of interest existed there. This association is part of hunting policy, since it was empowered and proliferated in the beginning of the 1980s to implement the formal rules in the Game Management Association Act (1980). It is assumed to be representative of local hunting in general. Lingering informal rules have been found to govern hunting locally in Norr-botten and show no sign of weakening. Thus, conflicts of interest, especially majority-minority conflicts between landowners and renthunters become permanent. Small game hunting and the issuing of hunting permits are, in particular, governed by informal rules, while the suspension of hunters is often the result of the arbitrary use of formal rules. These two issues involve mostly renthunters. Even the content of formal rules in policy can also cause conflict in GMAs. For instance, the 33§ in the Game Management Association Act has become legally and ideologically controversial, since it makes it difficult for landowners to remove their properties from GMAs, and, thus, from a European legal perspective, encroaches on both their property rights and exercise of individual rights. The thesis also reveals that administrative contexts and structural attributes influence conflicts of interest in GMAs. For instance, small game hunters in moose management areas are in conflict with their boards to a greater extent than their counterparts in hunting licence areas. The size of a GMA and the presence of non-local hunters are also factors that influence conflicts of interest in GMAs. Hunting policy has met resistance from local informal rules and the remnants of old policy rules, so-called ‘ghost policies'. For example, less than half of appealed GMAs between 1981 and 2003 used formal rules when making decisions. Thus, the goals concerning increasing the number of hunting opportunities in Sweden have not yet been fulfilled. Neither has game management improved. Ironically, this is caused by the presence of non- landowning non-local hunters, the very group of hunters the government's goals on hunting focus on. Nevertheless, small landowning hunters are satisfied with the amount of game they can hunt in the GMA.

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