Voting Guide:

How to Vote Wildlife-Friendly in the 2012 Elections


The November 6th elections will have far-reaching consequences for America's wildlife from coast to coast for years to come.

Right now, wildlife advocates across the country are preparing to cast their ballots for those candidates who will fight to conserve wildlife habitat, clean air and clean water.

Ready, Set, Vote

Voting for wildlife-friendly candidates is bigger than any one race on November 6th. It means looking at your ballot before you go to the polls, researching candidates' positions on key issues for wildlife, and making sure you have a plan to vote in person on November 6th or by absentee ballot.

  1. Look at your ballot and compare candidates' positions at You can take notes with you into the polls on which candidates and proposals you plan to vote for.
  2. Research candidates' position on key issues for wildlife listed below, including increasing clean energy production; cutting carbon emissions from coal and oil; and supporting the Environmental Protection Agency in limiting pollution to our air and water.
  3. Locate your polling place for voting and make a plan for what time you will vote on November 6th, or whether you can vote absentee or early. Locate your polling place.
  4. Vote on Tuesday, November 6th!

Key Issues for Wildlife in the 2012 Elections

Climate and Energy | Conservation Funding | Clean Water |
Endangered Species | Public Lands | Environmental Education

Before you go to the polls on November 6th, it's important to research candidates' positions on these key wildlife conservation issues:

Climate and Energy

Polar Bear

As changes in climate have rapidly thrown ecosystems out of balance, nature has been providing an early warning system, alerting us to the dangers that lie ahead if we don't curb greenhouse gas pollution. By acting now to curb carbon pollution from the burning of coal, oil and gas, the nation can protect thousands of wildlife species--including polar bears, pika, lizards, and sea turtles--that otherwise would be in jeopardy.

Find out if candidates:

  • Acknowledge the urgent need to fight climate change by reducing carbon pollution.
  • Support the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to begin curbing carbon pollution from smokestacks and tailpipes, as required under the Clean Air Act.
  • Support renewable energy resources that can put Americans to work.
  • Oppose opening up protected areas to oil and gas leasing in areas such as Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and coastal waters along the East and West Coasts.  
  • Oppose the illegal drilling loopholes for hydraulic fracturing created by Congress that allow companies using "fracking" chemicals to remain exempt from provisions of the U.S. Clean Water Act, even though their actions can put drinking water supplies at risk.

Conservation Funding


The U.S. government makes investments in protecting our shared environment that we all benefit from every day. These investments account for only about 1 percent of all federal spending, but they deliver huge benefits by enforcing air pollution standards, by improving water infrastructure to keep our lakes and rivers clean and our drinking water safe, and by managing our national parks and other public lands on which Florida panthers, bison, wolves, and polar bears live.

Unfortunately, the inability of lawmakers to reach an agreement on spending has left wildlife conservation programs subject to an oversized budget axe.

Find out if candidates:

  • Support reaching a fair and comprehensive budget deal, which will continue conservation funding for vital efforts to protect and recover wildlife, restore the Everglades, Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay.
  • Support eliminating subsidies and loopholes for oil and gas, mining and other special interests, which would save taxpayers billions of dollars every year.

Clean Water


River otters, migratory songbirds and waterfowl, various fish and amphibians and countless other species depend on healthy wetlands, lakes, rivers and streams.

As many as 20 million acres of the nation's waters and wetlands have been left susceptible to development and pollution. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency are considering an important and overdue roadmap for implementing the Clean Water Act, but some developers and other special interests are vigorously opposed.

Find out if candidates:

  • Support the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to help make more of our waters safe for fish, wildlife, and people.
  • Oppose an open pit gold mine in the watershed of Bristol Bay, Alaska--home to the world's largest run of sockeye salmon and an array of Arctic wildlife, including grizzly bears, wolves, moose, caribou and waterfowl.

Endangered Species


As we approach the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), conserving the nation's wildlife has never been more challenging. The Endangered Species Act has long been a safety net for critically imperiled wildlife and a success story for conservationists, saving 99 percent of all listed species from extinction, as well as successfully recovering bald eagles, alligators and many other species.

Find out if candidates:

  • Oppose pressure from developers to discard science and weaken the Endangered Species Act.

Public Lands


As development, and oil and gas drilling increase across much of the West, grizzlies, wolves, elk, bison, bighorn sheep and many other wildlife species increasingly depend on habitat in protected public lands. Senate races in states such as Montana and New Mexico will have a major impact on whether wilderness proposals advance next year, and conversely, on whether the government sells off some public wild lands, as members of the Utah congressional delegation propose.

Find out if candidates:

  • Oppose irresponsible oil and gas drilling on our Western public lands.

Environmental Education


Children in the United States today spend an average 7.5 hours daily in front of television, video games and other electronic media, while spending less time outdoors than any generation in human history. Increasingly, politicians of both parties recognize the need to reverse the indoor child epidemic, but leadership will be needed from Congress and the White House to advance these proposals and raise public awareness of the need to get kids back outdoors.

Find out if candidates:

  • Support the No Child Left Inside Act and the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act to help grow the next generation of conservationists by helping connect kids and nature.


The NWF Action Fund is endorsing candidates who are speaking up for conserving America's natural resources and wildlife and fostering a clean energy economy. Learn more.

In Alabama and Michigan, we are endorsing important ballot measures. If you live in Michigan, vote "Yes" to the Michigan Renewable Energy Standard. If you live in Alabama, vote "Yes" on the Alabama Forever Wild Land Trust Amendment.

Close Votes in Congress to Defend Wildlife Habitat

Since 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted more than 280 times to weaken clean air, clean water and wildlife protections. Thankfully, because of opposition from the Senate, the president or both, few of these bills have become law.

More often than not, the votes of only a handful of members of Congress who determined whether or not key conservation measures passed, which is why the upcoming elections are especially important for the future of wildlife. 

Help Protect Wildlife by Voting

Before you cast your vote, research candidates' positions on the issues that are critical to wildlife across the country.

"One of the most important things people can do to help protect wildlife is to engage in the political process by voting," says National Wildlife Federation President Larry Schweiger. "We need to press candidates of both parties and at all levels of government to put forward their plans on how the nation can better protect its natural resources for future generations."


-This issues guide was based on a National Wildlife Federation article that will be published in the October/November 2012 issue of National Wildlife Magazine.