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Report Raises Concerns, Offers Solutions for PA Big-Game Populations

A new National Wildlife Federation report says white-tailed deer are among big game in PA susceptible to climate change.  Photo courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org.
A new National Wildlife Federation report says white-tailed deer are among big game in PA susceptible to climate change. Photo courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org.
November 14, 2013

HARRISBURG, Pa. - The deer and bears that call Pennsylvania home are finding themselves under attack, not by predators, but by a changing climate that's putting their well-being at risk. The problem is covered in detail in a new National Wildlife Federation report titled, "Nowhere to Run: Big Game Wildlife in a Warming World."

According to NWF Senior Scientist Doug Inkley, heat waves, drought, floods and other extreme weather are starting to chip away at gains made in protecting species such as white-tailed deer in Pennsylvania, which affects not only the animals but sportsmen in the state.

"Pennsylvania has some 750,000 big-game hunters, and the number of big-game watchers in Pennsylvania is 1.6 million," he pointed out. "So there's a lot of interest for this in Pennsylvania."

Big game in Pennsylvania has benefited from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, which was passed in 1938 and raises revenue for conservation and hunter education through a tax on hunting equipment.

"Some $300 million has come to the state of Pennsylvania for wildlife conservation purposes," the NWF scientist said. "Now, this success story is being put at risk by climate change."

Inkley said the scope of the problem isn't lost on those who seek out big game in Pennsylvania, as an NWF survey conducted last year found out.

"Sixty-nine percent of sportsmen agree that the United States needs to reduce its carbon emissions that is threatening fish and wildlife habitat, and fish and wildlife directly themselves."

Inkley said the good news is that solutions to the problem could be found by cutting carbon pollution in half by 2030 and taking advantage of cleaner sources of energy. Other measures include promoting climate-smart approaches to conservation and factoring climate change into big-game plans and management.

The report is at NWF.org..

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA