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Report: Hunting, Fishing at Risk Due to Climate Change

According to a new report, such outdoor traditions in Colorado as hunting and fishing are increasingly at risk due to climate change. Courtesy: National Wildlife Federation
According to a new report, such outdoor traditions in Colorado as hunting and fishing are increasingly at risk due to climate change. Courtesy: National Wildlife Federation
November 25, 2015

DENVER – Such outdoor traditions in Colorado as hunting and fishing are increasingly at risk due to rising temperatures and their associated effects – including stronger storms, drought and wildfires - according to a new report by the National Wildlife Federation.

Paonia Chamber of Commerce President Michael Drake has been hunting elk in Colorado since 1977. He said he's noticed low temperatures during hunting season that used to be in the teens and 20s are now in the 40s.

"Elk don't move when it's hot," said Drake. "And all across the state, bow hunters that I've talked to have said the same thing – they're having a really hard time finding the elk. So, it's having a big impact."

The report lists examples of fish disappearing from some lakes and streams, big game species being pushed out of historic ranges, and birds losing habitat. Its recommendations include using the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan to cut climate pollution from the biggest source - power plants - and increasing investments in wildlife conservation and clean energy.

Colorado's attorney general, Cynthia Coffman, recently joined 23 other states filing suit against the federal government to block the Clean Power Plan. Gov. John Hickenlooper, who supports the plan, wants the state Supreme Court to force Coffman to withdraw the lawsuit.

Drake said he believes arguments against reducing climate pollution are an attempt to justify what he sees as privatizing profits and socializing risks.

"They're trying to say, 'It's going to cost big business a lot of money.' And the answer is, the cost to society is going to be huge if we don't fix this," Drake said.

According to the report, hunters and anglers contribute nearly $90 billion to the national economy, supporting more than 680,000 jobs.

Drake added if the state and the nation can't find a way to slow climate change, he's concerned future generations could miss out on Colorado's hunting and fishing heritage.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO