POLITICS
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Conservative Hunters And Fishermen Back Climate Change Legislation

Hunters and fishers, afraid that global warming could hamper their favorite pastime, have stepped into the lobbying fray for climate change legislation.

Reuters reports that the typically Republican hunting and angling constituency could play a crucial role in pushing Senate GOP votes in favor of the Boxer-Kerry climate change bill. The Dallas Safari Club, the National Trappers Association and Pheasants Forever were among the 20 national hunting and fishing groups who signed a letter to lawmakers asking that they ensure "the climate legislation you consider in the Senate both reduces greenhouse gas emissions and safeguards national resources."

Fears about declines in animal populations are mobilizing sportsmen, reports environmental news site Grist.Org. For example, many fear that fowl may not migrate as far south if northern U.S. states become warmer. Grist reports that disappearing wetlands could quickly translate into declines in ducks, salmon and trout and changing habitats could kill off deer, elk and quail among other animals.

"If you go out and hunt at the same time in the same season and the same place every year, then you understand the changes that are happening," said Jeremy Symons, senior vice president for conservation at the National Wildlife Federation.

The National Wildlife Federation estimates 42 million American hunt or fish --- wildlife recreation is a $172 billion piece of the economy.

Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever's vice president of government affairs, stands firmly in favor of climate change legislation, according to the group's Web site.

Pheasants Forever chapters and other conservation groups have been working on climate change for decades. We've just called it by another name - habitat conservation.

A few lawmakers have won over members of their conservative constituency by holding outdoor-themed fundraisers this year, according to PoliticalPartyTime.Org. Rep. Health Shuler of North Carolina held a March quail hunting fete at a Georgia plantation and Sen. John Cornyn went along with lobbyists on a dove hunt in September.