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Wildlife conservation passes a $3 billion milestone
By Rory Aikens, public information officer,
Arizona Game and Fish Department
A major milestone was celebrated at the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas recently – manufacturers have contributed $3 billion dollars since 1991 to finance wildlife conservation through the payment of federal excise taxes.
The excise tax is a primary source of wildlife conservation funding in the United States. Since the inception of the excise tax in 1937, more than $5 billion dollars has been collected.
“The firearms industry and sportsmen have been the unsung heroes of wildlife conservation in the United States. Together, they have helped create and fund a working model for wildlife conservation that is unsurpassed anywhere in the world. It is a remarkable achievement that benefits all wildlife enthusiasts,” said Arizona Game and Fish Director Duane Shroufe.
In recognition of the recent funding milestone, a commemorative check for $3 billion dollars was presented to H. Dale Hall, the director of U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and Matt Hogan, the executive director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), from key firearms industry leaders at the annual membership meeting of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) – the industry’s trade association.
“Our industry is proud of its leading role in financially supporting wildlife conservation and protecting habitat,” said Doug Painter, NSSF president and chief executive officer. “We are especially proud that our industry stepped up to the plate for America’s wildlife and natural resources decades before ‘environmentalism’ became a popular movement.”
The federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition products (11 percent on long guns and ammunition and 10 percent on handguns), is collected by the U.S. Treasury, Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and given to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service where it is deposited into the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund, commonly referred to as the Pittman-Robertson Trust Fund.
“The federal excise taxes paid by manufacturers of firearms and ammunition through the Wildlife Restoration program provide state wildlife agencies this critical funding necessary to help maintain wildlife resources, educate hunters and fund sport shooting ranges nationwide,” said Hall.
In just the past 12 months, the firearms and ammunition industry has contributed more than $280 million to conservation via the Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax (FAET). This amount of money demonstrates a 41-percent increase over the last five years. The complete amount collected through federal excise tax payments, a number which includes payments from the archery and fishing industries, tops $1 billion a year.
“For over 70 years, state fish and wildlife agencies have used the revenue from the Pittman-Robertson program to build the most successful wildlife conservation model the world has ever known,” said Hogan. “One needs only look at the return of species like the whitetail deer, wild turkey, pronghorn antelope and the wood duck, to name a few, to see that this money has been well spent for the benefit of all Americans.”
Remember, wildlife conservation and management of game animals by the Arizona Game and Fish Department is made possible in large part by funding generated from the sale of hunting licenses, hunt permit-tags, and matching funds from federal excise taxes hunters pay on guns, ammunition and related equipment.