Forty-two percent of hunters and anglers who consider themselves Republicans, and an even greater percentage who say they are ideologically conservative, agree with hunters and anglers of more independent and liberal persuasions that global warming is occurring and that the nation’s natural resources should be protected for future generations.
These and other findings of a nationwide poll conducted for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) were released Tuesday in an effort to inject conservation into discussions leading up to November’s local, state and national elections.
“Hunters and anglers have a strong desire to pass on this incredible (outdoor) legacy,’’ NWF supporter Theodore Roosevelt IV said in a conference call with reporters. “We want to encourage sportsmen to raise their hands and ask questions (of candidates) this fall.’’
A high percentage of hunters and anglers vote, the poll found, and while gun rights are important to them, natural resource conservation is also important.
NWF Minnesota spokesman Gary Botzek said the poll was conducted because, “We need to get (conservation) on candidates’ agenda, their radar screen. Now is the time to talk about our favorite issues, ranging from clean air to clean water to all of the hunting and fishing issues.’’
Kathleen Hadley, a NWF national board member from Montana, told reporters that warm weather in recent years has contributed to “turning our forests into tinder boxes.’’
“Ranchers are worried about feeding their livestock, and hay prices are out of sight,’’ she said. “We need to ask our political candidates to lay out their plans for wildlife and our public lands.’’
According to the poll:
• Most (59 percent) respondents believe global warming is occurring, and 66 percent agreed that, “We have a moral responsibility to confront global warming to protect our children’s future.’’
• Most (57 percent) favor the government’s effort to limit carbon dioxide and other air pollutants that affect the public’s, and wildlife’s, health.
• A clear majority (87 percent) worry kids today don’t spend enough time outdoors.
• And 79 percent favor restoring clean water protections to smaller creeks, streams and wetlands — safeguards that were undercut by a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.
The poll did not ask its 800 respondents where conservation fits among their hierarchy of political issues. Other polls have shown the economy dominates voters’ concerns.
In Minnesota, Botzek said, hunters and anglers were most recently politically energized in 2004 and 2008.
The constitutional right to hunt and fish passed in the earlier election, and approval of the Legacy Amendment followed four years later.
But neither hunters, anglers or other conservationists seem motivated this election cycle, despite big issues “left hanging’’ in Washington and St. Paul, Botzek said.
“On the federal level, the farm bill didn't’t get done, CRP is going away, and clean water legislation didn’t get done,’’ Botzek said. “Here in Minnesota, wetland protection needs to be strengthened, as do invasive species and drainage laws.’’
Conducted Aug. 27 through Sept. 1, the poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.
The entire poll is available here.