U.S. hunters, anglers weigh in on climate change

October 14, 2009

When people think of hunting and fishing politicians in America — at least prominent ones — two things spring to mind: 1. Republican and 2. Climate change skeptic. Former President George W. Bush, his vice president Dick Cheney and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin all fall into both categories.

But the hunting and fishing crowd — widely seen as reliably Republican because of that’s party’s successful portrayal of itself as the defender of God and guns — has also started to take note of climate change. After all, hunters and anglers are in the outdoors in pursuit of wildlife season after season, year after year.

But what may concern some Republican strategists is that many of them also accept the science of climate change, which overwhelmingly points to fossil fuel emissions as the main cause driving global warming.

This may help explain why Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina broke ranks with his party to outline a compromise to limit carbon emissions in a Sunday New York Times opinion piece he co-wrote with Democratic Senator John Kerry. Hunters and anglers in the U.S. South are widely seen as part of the Republican base and his call for action was saluted on Wednesday during a teleconference call hosted by the South Carolina Wildlife Federation (SCWF) and involved other outdoor groups.

I have observed things in my life time that suggest that significant impacts have already been felt here in our state,” said Clinch Heyward, the 60-year-old chairman of the SCWF.

He noted that in a life time of duck hunting he had noticed a decline in the state’s duck population while Virginia, where one of his sons now lives, had more and more ducks.

I was deer hunting last weekend and here it is October and it is 90 degrees (about 32 Celsius),” he said in his thick southern accent.

The SCWF said in a statement that: “Sportsmen are calling for passage of comprehensive climate and energy legislation“.

Such legislation is currently being considered in the U.S. Senate and is one of President Barack Obama’s top domestic priorities.

 The shooting and fishing crowd is not always seen as a natural ally of the bunny and tree-hugging crowd. Do you see at least some of them uniting on this issue? And what might the political implications for the Republican Party be?

(PHOTO: A young hunter takes aim at the Cabela’s store in Fort Worth, Texas June 26, 2008. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES)


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

This is biased and NON-reporting. It sources no statistics and alleges that “many” believe something -which is not journalism but just propaganda. Reuters should do a better job than just make propaganda- for any side.

Posted by Alan | Report as abusive

We have had record cold temperatures here in our state this fall. Antarctic ocean ice extents keep increasing. The Arctic ice has grown back to where it was in 2005. Just a few years ago I remember suffering through 40 below Fahrenheit and trying to get the car started. I think we should worry more about man’s encroachment and real pollution, not CO2. Lindsay Graham is a mouthpiece for Drake energy and nuclear power.

Posted by John Klug | Report as abusive

What a load of absolute codswallop. More and more people are questioning the so-called science of climate change, which was once called global warming. Unfortunately for the truthers and the hockey stick true believers, the world has cooled since 1998. Shucks, let’s just ignore that and carry on with the convenient lies.

Posted by Terry | Report as abusive

To John Klug: you’re confusing weather with climate: it’s the worldwide average that counts, not your local weather. June to August saw the highest worldwide ocean temperatures on record.Those who deny the existence of climate change always come with one sentence about one tiny detail. If you want details and scientific background information on the so-called controversial issues, check on www.realclimate.org and www.skepticalscience.comClimate science has a very clear message with an enormous amount of evidence: the risks of dangerous climate change are far too great to ignore.It’s like sitting in a cosy log-cabin in the forest, having a party with friends. There’s smoke in the air, strange sounds which could be burning trees, animals fleeing past the veranda. However, most present say, it’s far too nice here. Only if I see the fire, I’ll run. But it may well be too late.

Posted by Jan | Report as abusive

I’m a fly fisherman, and I first knew climate change was real when I went to Montana and couldn’t fish during the day because fishing was shut down due to excessive temperatures stressing the trout.There’s a great website that highlights some more of the issue at http://ww.targetglobalwarming.org

Posted by Fisherman | Report as abusive

Hunters and anglers are the grandfathers of the conservation movement. We voluntarily “taxed” ourselves by calling for the federal Duck Stamp to fund wetlands conservation. At the beginning of the twentieth century, there were approximately 650,000 wild turkeys nationwide, but thanks to wise wildlife management and aggressive reintroduction programs funded by sportsmen’s dollars, today there are more than 7 million wild turkeys throughout North America.A true sportsman (or woman) who cares about the resource, will find out what threatens the resource – and in many cases it global warming (or climate change, call it what you will).Congress needs to take action on climate change to reduce pollution and safeguard habitat.

Posted by Derek | Report as abusive

Here’s some numbers – an independent survey commissioned by National Wildlife Federation shows 80 of hunters and anglers want climate action.600 outdoor groups just wrote the Senate to ask for comprehensive climate and energy legislation.Want to see more facts than you can shake a stick at – go to targetglobalwarming.org

Posted by Tony Iallonardo | Report as abusive

For you bloggers who hunt and fish, but still complain about folks trying to do something about climate change, know that you’re in a minority. A nationwide random poll of those with hunting and fishing licenses done by a republican pollster for NWF found that 76% agree that global warming is occurring, 73% believe it is impacting hunting or fishing, and 75% believe congress should pass mandatory legislation limiting carbon emissions. 73% of those polled considered themselves conservatives or moderates. Even if you haven’t picked up on longer term trends in the field as I have during my past 25 years hunting and fishing in the north country, you should at least worry about our grandkids who won’t have the same fish and game experiences we do. If data really mattered to you, and you actually understood the science, you’d be doing something more productive than complaining on a website about people trying to improve the situation.

Posted by Matt L | Report as abusive

Excellent analogy, Jan!How anyone can be so blind as to ignore the overwhelming evidence in favour of climate change is beyond me….

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

Is it really only Republicans who hunt, fish, drive, go to church, fly and on occasion emit a bit of gas and hot air? I wasn’t aware …. Hmmmmmm ……

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

The earth heats, the earth cools. It’s a natural accuring phenomenon. Live with it. It’s been going on for millions of years.

Posted by Glenn | Report as abusive

We are experiencing record first snow and record amountsfor first snow in the northeast us. Same with austria, switzerland, france. Seems like it is getting coldersooner than ever before and last year was just a sampleof what is coming, IceAge

Posted by pablo | Report as abusive

No one that I’ve heard has argued that the climate is changing. Who are all of you arguing with? What is in doubt, is whether man is responsible for the change, and how much he is responsible for. DUHHH. Now – who wants to hear the single best solution for CO2 in the air? It’s just so simple. PLANT TREES!!! National Arbor day needs to be turned into National Arbor MONTH!! It’s the vegetation that will trap the CO2. All these silly plans I hear to sequester CO2 are just methods to seperate fools from their money. Plant a tree, plant a hundred trees. Every year. Then, sit back and watch that greenhouse gas get vacuumed out of the air.

Posted by Paul | Report as abusive

[…] South Carolina Wildlife Federation, whose membership includes many sportsmen, is backing Mr. Graham, according to Reuters. And a veterans group called VoteVets just launched a 60-second radio ad […]

Posted by Republican Senator Takes Heat for Cooperating on Cap-and-Trade – Green Inc. Blog – NYTimes.com | Report as abusive

I have a home in Montana and the glaciers have been growing here for the past two years. Yes, we are getting climate change it is getting colder and has been for the past ten years based on actual satellite data.

Posted by Montana Trout fisherman | Report as abusive

With the coming climate regulations, anglers will only be able to use a row boat, and deer hunters will have to drag their kill home. Say goodbye to your pick up truck; say hello to your golf cart, which takes ten hours to charge. And if your job moves to China, you will sell that favorite shotgun to feed your family. All green energy technologies cost too much, thus anything using energy will increase in cost. The first thing to go will be recreational funds. Say goodbye to wild life funding.

Posted by R. L. Hails Sr. P. E. | Report as abusive

Continue to be amazed at how people ignore a multitude of peer-reviewed U.S. and international reports from climate scientists that tell us over and over again we have to reduce carbon pollution that is wrecking havoc on our planet. Would the deniers ignore doctors’ reports on what’s harming their kids and not buy the prescription to make them healthier?

Posted by Jennifer | Report as abusive

‘The Earth heats, the Earth cools.’ Sure it does, but what you haven’t seemed to notice is the long term drift of a rising temperature that is not explainable by any cause other than green house gas emissions. We can do nothing and have the ice caps melt, the deserts massively expand, populations starve and people fight each other desperately for scarce land and water. Or, we could be wise. Your choice. But be warned, we all might just get the world we deserve.

Posted by Graham Ford | Report as abusive

The survey included questions like this (with which 85 percent agreed): “We can improve the environment and strengthen the economy by investing in renewable energy technologies that create jobs while reducing global warming.”Could the survey be more biased? Of course that statement is true. How about asking this question and seeing what the response is: “We won’t improve the environment or strengthen the economy by investing in renewable energy technologies that do not create jobs or reduce global warming.”

Posted by Tom | Report as abusive

“Clinch Heyward” eh? You got so gamed! I smell a SC native-rat behind all this. One with loads of media experience in pulling-off fake news ya-ya. From SC. Now that should narrow down the field so freakin’ far that even a Reuters reporter could figure it out.

Posted by Grayson Daughters | Report as abusive

There IS a Clinch Heyward who does something, whatever, parades around in hunting gear I suppose, for the SCWF. But given that Reuters just got punked over a fake press release regarding climate change and the US Chamber of Commerce, I had to assume that a heavily-accented “Clinch Heyward” was fake too. But I just called the SCWL and talked to some fast-talker with Lowcountry accent named “Steve.” (steve @ scwf.org)He, Steve of the SCWF, said he DID indeed work for rich-pants Clinch, who likely works hard shooting things mostly. I imagine they at the SCWF trot out old Duncan Clinch Heyward to give Reuters boy reporters a good show. Then they stick him back out in the swamp and let him blast away into air.

Posted by Grayson Daughters | Report as abusive

Many hunters/anglers in SC are noticing the effects of global warming. The National Audubon Society’s senior scientists analyzed 40 years of Christmas Bird Count data and found that 58% of the 305 species that winter in the US have shifted signigficantly north and inland. This does not bode well for birds that use marshes, tundra, prairies. Audubon connects this shift to global warming from manmade causes. When food sources shift north and inland and there is an aberrant colder than usual winter, food sources are affected and birds decline. The American Black Duck is wintering 182 miles further north and inland, while the Common Merganser is wintering 106 miles further north and inland and the Northern Pintail, 91 miles. Another game species, the Northern Bobwhite (Quail) is wintering 85 miles further north and inland.Ann ShahidImportant Bird Area CoordinatorClimate and Energy Outreach CoordinatorAudubon SC

Posted by Ann SHahid | Report as abusive

As a landowner and a non-hunting conservationist I do not put much stock in the opinion of “sportsmen”. All I see from them is poaching and a disregard for property rights. Climate change is real, ask the wildlife.

Posted by Doug | Report as abusive

I have been a hunter all my life, I have yet to hunt on a glacier, so I’ll just trust the scientists. Kind of like when I broke my arm, I went to a Doctor not an Anthropologist.

Posted by James Reginald Harris, Jr | Report as abusive

Lindsey Graham is a brilliant climate change scientist, but he forgot to examine the effects of sunspots on climate. Now that we’re out of another sunspot cycle, let’s see what happens to temperatures. Oh… and, by the way, Lindsey Graham may be positioning himself as a moderate to run for president (or he’s just stupid). Just ask the other brilliant climate change scientist John McCain, who also positioned himself as a climate change believer shortly before running for president. Fortunately, the American public won’t be buying another cap-and-tax pseudo-conservative. In fact, it might be time for a Libertarian.

Posted by Ben | Report as abusive

I do not think we have even begun to address the change that the population has effected on the earth. We see only our country, but other countries have a large increase in population and the forest is still being cut in many countries. I predict that we will see less people on the earth due to sickness and food shortages. I also believe that we can run our cars without gasoline or diesel and we can also run our power plants without coal or natural gas.

Posted by f belz | Report as abusive