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North Carolina Hunters Fight to Protect Big Game

Photo: North Carolina's black bears can be found from the mountains to the coast. Courtesy: USFWS Headquarters
Photo: North Carolina's black bears can be found from the mountains to the coast. Courtesy: USFWS Headquarters
November 14, 2013

RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina's signature black bear and equally well-known white tailed deer are threatened by climate change, according to a report released this week by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).

The organization analyzed climate data and concluded that rising temperatures, drought and extreme weather events are making it tougher for big game animals to survive.

Doug Inkley, the report’s author and an avid hunter, says hunters are especially concerned about the problem.

"When I go out deer hunting and I'm sitting there in shirtsleeves instead of my usual winter jacket, and this is happening year after year after year – I notice this,” he explains. “And hunters do care because they've been putting a lot of money into conservation of our big game and other wildlife species."

Inkley adds that excise taxes and ammunition that the 281,000 hunters in North Carolina have bought in the last 75 years amount to $200 million for conservation.

The NWF report – Nowhere to Run: Big Game Wildlife in a Warming World – recommends actions to reduce carbon emissions by decreasing the production of greenhouse gases.

Bob Brown, a big game biologist and former president of The Wildlife Society, says hunters provide a valuable observation of the realities of climate change.

"So it's not a projection by a climatologist that things are going to get warmer in the next 100 years,” he stresses. “It's, 'Hey, things are starting to happen now and we need to start paying attention to this in all the management decisions and policy decisions that we make.' "

Doug Inkley adds the longer summer season is having an impact on North Carolina's black bear.

"Now with climate change, the seasons are longer in the summertime, so it's warmer,” he explains. “So these bears are going to be up more often in the fall and into the winter, and they're going to get up earlier as well. So that means the potential for more human-bear conflicts."

Nationwide, hunters spent $16 billion on big game hunting in 2011. In addition to hunters, nationwide more than 22 million people observed big games from their homes in the same year.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC