The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced that $1.1 billion in funds would be apportioned through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration programs. Revenues come from excise taxes generated by the sale of sporting firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing equipment, electric boat motors and from taxes on the purchase of motorboat fuel.
Specifically, excise taxes on firearms and ammo sales collected under the 1937 Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act are paid quarterly by firearms and ammunition manufacturers, and under law may only be used for the benefit of public recreation, education and conservation. The 10-percent tax paid on sales of pistols and revolvers and 11 percent paid on long guns and ammunition is generally considered the most accurate barometer of the sector’s performance.
“These funds are the cornerstone of state-based efforts that are critical to the preservation of America's wildlife and natural resources,” said FWS Director Dan Ashe. “But they are also the fuel for a massive financial engine that benefits outdoor recreationists, hunters, boaters and anglers, equipment manufacturers and retailers, and local and regional economies. Their value cannot be overstated in providing opportunities for the next generation of Americans to get outdoors, experience our wild places and learn the importance of conserving our natural heritage.”
Pittman Robertson-Dingell Johnson funds are distributed by the Service's Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program. Since their inception, the programs have generated more than $15 billion to conserve fish and wildlife resources and support outdoor recreation opportunities for the American public. The recipient State fish and wildlife agencies have matched these funds with more than $5 billion over the years, mostly through hunting and fishing license revenues.
Revenues available under Pittman-Robertson have surged in recent years, largely due to a spike in gun and ammunition sales. In 2014, $760 million was apportioned by the USFWS from collected taxes, more than twice the $371 million allocated in 2012.
An itemized report of the amount of excise tax collected individually on handguns, long guns and ammunition is expected to be release in coming weeks.
In mid-April, a report compiled by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) reported that the total economic impact of the firearms and ammunition industry in the United States increased from $19.1 billion in 2008 to $42.9 billion in 2014. The total economic impact increase reflected a 125-percent increase, formidable during a period of relatively sluggish overall economic climate across the country.
“Wildlife conservation is the real winner here, as we increased federal tax payments by 108 percent, Pittman-Robertson excise taxes that support wildlife conservation by 145 percent and state business taxes by 106 percent,” said Stephen L. Sanetti, NSSF president and chief executive officer.