Poll: In Address to Sportsmen Paul Ryan Should Speak to The Real Concerns of America's Hunters And Anglers

He may be a bow hunter, but the GOP Vice Presidential nominee has so far said little about the conservation priorities of America's hunters and anglers.

A new National Wildlife Federation poll released this week shows sportsmen care as much about conservation as gun rights and favor a wide range of policies to protect our natural heritage. The poll of 800 sportsmen, conducted by a Republican firm, highlights that hunters and anglers remain a key target demographic with about 30 percent identifying themselves as independent or split-ticket voters. Rep. Ryan is scheduled to address a gathering of sportsmen in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday.

"We greatly appreciate that Paul Ryan is a genuine and passionate sportsman. What we want to hear from him and Governor Romney is a real conservation agenda that will protect hunting and fishing habitat and wildlife," said Land Tawney, senior sportsman advisor for the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund. "We are deeply concerned that as Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Congressman Ryan has sought to privatize public lands, giving away prime hunting and fishing areas."

On page 33 of his proposed budget (see Path to Prosperity report), Ryan calls for the sale of millions of acres of publicly owned land out West. The privatization could be a boon to oil and gas companies and lead to areas being closed to hunting, fishing and other recreational activities. What he called "unneeded federal property," falling under the Bureau of Land Management, is vital for middle class hunters who rely on public lands because they don't have access to private ranches and farms.

The National Wildlife Federation poll found more sportsmen opposing such a plan than supporting it. Given a choice between protecting America’s public lands and prioritizing the production of oil, gas and coal, 49 percent want to protect public lands and just 35 percent choose fossil fuel production.

On climate change, Ryan has voted to prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from acting to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, as the Supreme Court directed, and he has aligned himself against most sportsmen by sympathizing with climate change deniers.

By contrast, two in three sportsmen polled (66 percent) believe America has a moral responsibility to confront global warming to protect our children's future. Additionally, 69 percent agree the U.S. should reduce its carbon emissions that contribute to global warming and threaten fish and wildlife habitat.

“We urge Congressman Ryan to lay out a serious pro-conservation agenda,” said Tawney “and to make clear how a Romney-Ryan administration would advance clean air, water and wildlife protections that are fundamental to the values that sportsmen of all walks of life and political stripes share. It's shortsighted to privatize public lands as they are the base for the $70 billion dollar annual sustainable economy sportsmen and women contribute each and every year."

About the poll: this national public opinion poll surveying 800 self-identified hunters and anglers was conducted by conservative-leaning Chesapeake Beach Consulting from August 27 through September 1, 2012 for the National Wildlife Federation. The sample for this survey was randomly drawn from a list of self-identified hunters and anglers. To qualify, a respondent must have indicated they were a hunter, an angler or both as well as a registered voter. All interviews were conducted by telephone, including 15 percent of the interviews by cell phone. The margin of error for this study is plus or minus 3.2 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. Learn more about the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund at NWFActionFund.org.

Contact: Malea Stenzel, NWF Action Fund, 202-258-2828, maleastenzel@nwa.org

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The National Wildlife Federation Action Fund is the 501(c)4 grassroots lobbying arm of the National Wildlife Federation. NWF Action Fund is an organization that advocates for the conservation interests of hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts from all walks of life and political stripes. We are committed to encouraging participation in the democratic process and inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future. www.nwfactionfund.org.