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Hunt & Fish vs. “Drill, Baby, Drill?” - NE Sportsmen Weigh In

PHOTO: Man in a deer stand. Photo credit: Steve Maslowski, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
PHOTO: Man in a deer stand. Photo credit: Steve Maslowski, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
October 29, 2012

BOSTON - Conservation is just as important as gun rights, according to a new poll of sportsmen by the National Wildlife Federation. Nearly half said those two priorities have equal weight in their minds. And given a choice between prioritizing oil and gas production or protecting public lands, 35 percent chose the fuel and 49 percent chose the public lands.

That finding makes sense to Mark Jester, president of the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen.

"For sportsmen, you know, land is a rare commodity and we want to protect it, you know, what's out there. So, it does not surprise me one bit."

Forty-two percent of respondents said they are Republicans, 32 percent Independents, and 18 percent Democrats.

More than two-thirds of the sportsmen polled said the U.S. should work to reduce carbon emissions; update the national mining law, which dates from 1872; and expand and strengthen the Clean Water Act.

Mark Jester agrees, noting the region's "downwind" location.

"New England has become 'the tailpipe of the nation,' and so, climate is a huge issue for the sportsmen."

John Gale with the NWF says he thinks the poll mirrors the views of most Americans, whom he believes are still reasonable people who value things like public lands and fish and wildlife habitat.

"And while they understand the need for oil and gas and energy, they don't want to see that come at the expense of what public lands offer them."

The U.S. Senate has voted to consider the Sportsmen's Act of 2012, a package of 19 bills, as one of the first orders of business after the elections. It focuses on conservation funding and public lands access. The House passed its version of the legislation in April.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - MA