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Number of Canadians opposed to animals in rodeos rises: poll

Research Co. and Glacier Media examine Canadians’ relationship with animals
The City of Port Moody enacted a ban on rodeos earlier this year | John P Kelly/Stone/Getty Images

In May, the City of Port Moody enacted a ban on rodeos, effectively joining Vancouver and the District of North Vancouver as the only municipalities in British Columbia where this type of event cannot be held.

The measure may have seemed unnecessary from a logistical standpoint, as Port Moody does not currently have a venue suitable for this kind of spectacle. Still, the ban appears to be in tune with how Canadians feel about rodeos.

In September 2020, a third of Canadians (32 per cent) told Research Co. and Glacier Media that they were in favour of using animals in rodeos. In April 2022, the proportion fell to 29 per cent. In our latest survey, conducted in August 2023, only 24 per cent of Canadians consented to the competition.

Right now, two-thirds of Canadians (67 per cent, up six points) are opposed to using animals in rodeos. There is a significant gender gap among supporters: 31 per cent among men and 17 per cent among women. The performance sees its highest level of support in Alberta (31 per cent) and Atlantic Canada (30 per cent), and its lowest in Quebec (16 per cent).

Positive views towards another form of entertainment that relies on animals also experienced a decline in 2023. Just over a third of Canadians (35 per cent) are in favour of keeping animals in zoos or aquariums, down four points since 2022.

Once again, the gender gap is inescapable. More than two in five Canadian men (42 per cent) see nothing wrong with the way zoos or aquariums operate at this stage, but they are joined by just 30 per cent of Canadian women.

The perceptions of Canadians on some of the other issues we track did not go through severe fluctuations. We continue to see more than three in five (63 per cent, up one point) who are in favour of hunting animals for meat and a higher proportion (75 per cent, up three points) who support eating animals.

Canadians remain fiercely critical of two other practices. Fewer than one in four (18 per cent, up one point) are in favour of killing animals for their fur, and only 14 per cent (unchanged) are in favour of hunting animals for sport (trophy hunting).

Support for killing animals for their fur is particularly low in Alberta (17 per cent), Ontario (also 17 per cent), B.C. (16 per cent) and Quebec (15 per cent). The numbers rise – although nowhere near majority territory – in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (26 per cent) and Atlantic Canada (31 per cent).

On the issue of trophy hunting, the generational divide is profound. Only nine per cent of Canadians aged 55 and over are supportive, compared to 13 per cent among those aged 35 to 54 and 19 per cent among those aged 18 to 34. These are still sizable proportions of Canadians who despise the practice, but animosity is especially strong among the country’s oldest adults.

The current views of Canadians on specific issues related to animals appear to be entrenched. Majorities continue to have no qualms about consuming animals and hunting them for food, and criticism remains remarkable on killing animals for fur or trophies.

The two items that saw the most movement in 2023 – animals in rodeos and in zoos or aquariums – are related, at least tangentially, to entertainment.

It is important to note that age is not the defining factor in the relationship of Canadians with animals. Trophy hunting is more disgusting for those aged 55 and over, but younger Canadians are more likely to look negatively at the use of animals in rodeos. Resistance to changing some of these practices is more likely to be shaped by gender and, to a lesser extent, region.

Mario Canseco is president of Research Co.

Results are based on an online study conducted from August 17 to August 19, 2023, among 1,000 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error, which measures sample variability, is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.