September 21, 2017

Hunters and Anglers are Environmentalists

The results of a national poll show hunters and anglers, a generally ideologically conservative group, prioritize conservation of public lands over energy development.
PennFuture, Vol. 14, No. 18 – Sept. 28, 2012

PennFuture is the Pennsylvania affiliate for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), the organization that just released results of a national poll that shows hunters and anglers, a generally ideologically conservative group, prioritize conservation of public lands over energy development and consider threats to America’s conservation heritage as a priority issue – on par with gun rights. They also have no question that climate change is real and occurring.

The support for conservation is bipartisan and extends to specific issues and actions. Nearly eight out of 10 hunters and anglers support restoring Clean Water Act protections to wetlands and waterways, including smaller creeks and streams. They want public lands to be protected. And they want citizens to continue to have access to, and enjoy, those resources.

One finding should make Pennsylvania legislators and regulators take notice. Almost 90 percent of hunters and anglers, who vote in large numbers, say they want the government to take their needs and desires into account when issuing oil and gas leases. They want the government to consider the need to protect wildlife habitat and insure air and water are kept clean before allowing drilling to proceed on public lands. Eighty-four percent want the government to prioritize conservation of wildlife habitat and promote outdoor recreation on public lands.

And support for the environment among hunters and anglers extends to climate change, with two-thirds saying, “We have a moral responsibility to confront global warming to protect our children’s future.” They believe global warming is causing the extreme hot weather we’re experiencing. And 72 percent agree that we can improve the environment and strengthen the economy by investing in renewable energy technologies that create jobs while reducing heat-trapping pollution.

Hunters and anglers also want those who harm public resources to pay heavily for their actions. The poll found that more than eight out of 10 think BP should be held accountable and fined the maximum amount for its indiscretions, and the company should be required to fully restore the Gulf to ensure recovery of fish and wildlife populations. They also firmly believe that any monies collected should be used exclusively to restore fish and wildlife habitats.

The respondents also said they are greatly concerned about the nation’s children. Nearly 90 percent said it is a serious problem that children are not spending enough time outdoors. And 91 percent believe that children’s lack of connection to nature and the outdoors is a threat to the future of wildlife conservation in America.

The poll results may surprise those who would inappropriately attempt to align conservative ideology with anti-environmentalism. But they fail to understand the history of the conservation movement in America and the great contributions to that heritage made by hunters and anglers. As important, they forget that it is not a conservative principle to waste – to waste money, to waste energy, to waste our land and water so there is no outdoor heritage to pass along to future generations.

Said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the NWF, “Candidates at all levels should answer this simple question: What’s your plan for protecting our outdoor heritage for our children’s future? These are ethics that sustain America’s wildlife, outdoor economy and healthy families.”