PENNSYLVANIA SURVEY: Pennsylvania Sportsmen Seeing Signs of Global Warming

The majority of Pennsylvania sportsmen support statewide efforts to reduce global warming pollution and help wildlife adapt to climate changes already underway, a new survey of hunters and anglers in the state reveals.

06-14-2006 // Christine Dorsey

"Moral Responsibility to Protect Our Children's Future"

HARRISBURG, PA -- The majority of Pennsylvania sportsmen support statewide efforts to reduce global warming pollution and help wildlife adapt to climate changes already underway, a new survey of hunters and anglers in the state reveals.

In a first-ever comprehensive statewide survey of licensed Pennsylvania hunters and anglers about their attitudes on global warming, three-quarters say they are witnessing the effects of global warming and are concerned about the threat it poses to fish and wildlife in the state.

"Pennsylvanians who have hunted or fished for years are seeing the gradual but steady signs of global warming -- shorter winters, earlier spring, less snow, fewer days of ice-cover on lakes and ponds," said Ed Zygmunt, a board member of the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs. "Wildlife species are the early indicators of global warming, and it's a real concern for people who value wildlife and understand what seemingly minor changes in climate can mean for the future of entire ecosystems."

"Pennsylvania sportsmen are saying we have a moral responsibility to combat global warming to protect our children's future," said Larry Schweiger, Pittsburgh resident and president of the National Wildlife Federation.

According to the survey, 70 percent of Pennsylvania sportsmen say global warming is an urgent problem that needs immediate action, and they want clean energy solutions that create jobs and cut pollution from burning fossil fuels.

Nearly two-thirds of Pennsylvania sportsmen believe it is important that Pennsylvania take immediate action to reduce global warming, and an overwhelming majority (83 percent) support Pennsylvania joining an effort by other states to confront global warming, the survey indicates. Currently seven Northeast states have joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional effort to cut global warming pollution from power plants. Pennsylvania has not joined the effort, but has 'observer' status.

"We are reaching a tipping point in this country where the vital sportsmen's constituency is adding its voice to those who recognize global warming is occurring; it poses serious threats and action must be taken to address it," Schweiger said.

The National Wildlife Federation and its affiliate, the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsman's Clubs, commissioned Responsive Management of Harrisonburg, Virginia, to conduct the non-partisan survey. From late March through April 2006, 306 hunters and anglers from Pennsylvania were polled, chosen from lists of individuals holding hunting and fishing licenses in the state. The proportion of hunters and anglers was designed to correspond to the most recent (2001) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. The poll has a sampling error of plus or minus 5.6 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

The survey reveals that more than three-quarters (76 percent) of Pennsylvania hunters and anglers agree that global warming is occurring, and about the same (75 percent) said they have observed changes in climate conditions where they live, such as warmer, shorter winters, hotter summers, earlier spring and less snow. Nearly two-thirds (60 percent) said they believe these changes are related to global warming.

Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) believe it either is currently impacting or will impact hunting or fishing conditions, and 69 percent agree that it is a serious threat to fish and wildlife.

"These numbers validate a lot of the anecdotal evidence we hear among fellow sportsmen that the climate is changing and it is having discernable effects, even right here in Pennsylvania," said Zygmunt.

The survey also reveals that Pennsylvania sportsmen are deeply dissatisfied with the nation's current energy policy and support a major shift to depend less on fossil fuels that produce global warming pollution while developing a new generation of alternative and renewable energy sources.

"Most Pennsylvania sportsmen--60 percent, according to the survey--don't buy the argument that relying less on fossil fuels, including coal, will harm the economy," Schweiger said. "In fact, they are clearly signaling they support new economic opportunities in the form of renewable energy."

The survey shows that an overwhelming majority (82 percent) supports wind energy development in Pennsylvania.

Eighty-percent of Pennsylvania hunters and anglers polled agree with President Bush's State of the Union assertion that the nation is addicted to oil. Yet an even greater number, 82 percent, say the administration and Congress are not doing enough to break that addiction.

Overall, nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of Pennsylvania sportsmen say the nation is on the wrong track in meeting its energy needs.

"The debate among most Americans has shifted away from 'is it real' to 'what are we doing about it,'" Schweiger said. "It's time the administration and Congress step up to the plate with real solutions."

An overwhelming majority of 79 percent says conserving more, developing fuel efficient vehicles and expanding the use of renewable sources are the best way to address America's energy needs, rather than drilling for more oil and gas within the United States (supported by 14 percent).

The profile of the average hunter or angler surveyed is male, middle-aged, living in small-town or rural Pennsylvania. More than three-quarters (77 percent) consider themselves either moderate or conservative in political ideology. Forty-two percent of those surveyed in the state identified themselves as evangelical Christians.

More than 2.3 million people hunt and fish in Pennsylvania, generating some $2 billion in direct annual expenditures from their sports. The membership of the National Wildlife Federation and its 47 state and territorial affiliates includes nearly 750,000 hunters and anglers.

According to the survey:

  • 78% of Pennsylvania sportsmen believe the United States should be a world leader in addressing global warming.
  • 84% of hunters and anglers agree that the federal government should provide incentives for industries to replace some energy from oil, gas and coal with renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.
  • 83% support federal incentives for companies that develop new energy efficient technologies that reduce global warming
  • 89% support federal incentives that make energy conservation technologies more affordable for citizens.
  • Only 14% think drilling for more oil and gas in the U.S., including on public lands, is the best way to address America's energy needs.

"Sportsmen are clearly under whelmed by Washington's lack of leadership," Schweiger said. "They expect more from their elected leaders and are indicating that this lack of leadership may not go unnoticed when they exercise their right to vote."

According to the survey:

  • More than two-thirds (66%) said they would favor a candidate who supports strong laws and immediate action to address global warming. Just one-quarter (25%) said a candidate who only supports voluntary efforts and research would gain their support.
  • Three-quarters (76%) agree that Congress should 'pass legislation that sets a clear national goal for reducing global warming pollution with mandatory timelines because industry has already had enough time to clean up voluntarily.'
  • 71% strongly support funding to boost research and development of clean energy technologies. About two-thirds (63%) strongly support assistance to farmers and other landowners who conserve soil and plant trees for reforestation.

The full poll can be found at: www.targetglobalwarming.org/pennsylvania/

The National Wildlife Federation is America's conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future. The Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs provides a statewide, united voice for the concerns of all sportsmen and conservationists; to insure their rights and interests are protected, and to protect and enhance the environment and our natural resources.

Immediate Release: June 14, 2006

Contact: Christine Dorsey, 703-470-6689 cell or 802-229-0650 office, dorsey@nwf.org

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