The widespread activity of recreational hunting is proposed as a means of conserving nature and supporting livelihoods. However, recreational hunting—especially trophy hunting—has come under increasing scrutiny based on ethical concerns and the arguments that it can threaten species and fail to contribute meaningfully to local livelihoods. We provide an overview of the peer-reviewed literature on recreational hunting of terrestrial birds and mammals between 1953 and 2020 (>1,000 papers). The most-studied species are large mammals from North America, Europe, and Africa. While there is extensive research on species' ecology to inform sustainable hunting practices, there is comparably little research on the role of local perceptions and institutions in determining socioeconomic and conservation outcomes. Evidence is lacking to answer the pressing questions of where and how hunting contributes to just and sustainable conservation efforts. We outline an agenda to build this evidence base through research that recognizes diverse social-ecological contexts. Recreational hunting is promoted as a means of supporting nature conservation and local people. However, recreational hunting, especially hunting of charismatic species for their trophies, raises ethical and moral concerns. In this study, we reviewed over 1,000 studies on recreational hunting. This literature has a strong focus on large mammals. Importantly, evidence is still lacking to answer the pressing questions of whether, where, and how hunting contributes to sustainable conservation efforts. We outline an agenda to build this evidence.
- community conservation
- sustainable use