Post-print of: Reis, AC & Higham, JES 2009, 'Recreation conflict and sport hunting: moving beyond goal interference towards social sustainability', Journal of Sport and Tourism, vol. 14, no. 2-3, pp. 83-107.
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Sport and recreational conflict in natural areas arises from growth in the diversity of, and demand for, nature-based sport activities and recreation pursuits. The social sustainability of such activities within a tourism context should recognize that conflicts between different users are complex and dynamic, not simply the result of goal interference or competition for scarce resources. This paper critically explores the complexities of sport hunting and recreational conflict using quantitative and qualitative techniques implemented on Stewart Island, New Zealand. The empirical research points to an ambiguity of feelings and attitudes concerning the relationship and potential/real conflicts between sport hunters and recreational hikers. While some reportedly experienced actual conflict, quantitative methods did in fact highlight many common elements of motivation and environmental values that are shared by both hunters and hikers. Interviews and participant observations highlighted three key elements of the outdoor sport/recreation experience that provide potential for conflict. These included user group characteristics, hut behaviour/etiquette and the use of firearms/killing of animals. We propose that conflict is an integral part of society and hence considerable effort should focus on accurately understanding conflict situations. The results support the need for management based on integration rather than segregation, and may be viewed as a move away from reactive management based on relatively isolated instances of goal interference, towards a social sustainability paradigm founded upon a nuanced understanding of conflict phenomena.