Full Title: Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act
Without a federal mandate, or any increase in user fees or taxes, H.R. 877 preserves the current user pay/public benefit funding model of wildlife conservation for future generations by giving state fish and wildlife agencies the flexibility needed in today’s environment to utilize funds for state-specific needs while complimenting current, critical wildlife conservation efforts.
In 1937, the Pittman-Robertson Act redirected an existing federal excise tax (FET) on firearms and ammunition used by hunters and other outdoor recreationists to a Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund. The excise tax is set at 10% of the wholesale price for pistols and revolvers, and 11% for other firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment. The funds are apportioned to state fish and wildlife agencies annually through an equation based on the geographic area and the number of hunting licenses annually sold in each state.
Eligible uses of the Fund include efforts to conserve wildlife populations, acquire and manage wildlife habitats, provide hunter safety programs, ensure public access to numerous acres of land, and much more. State fish and wildlife agencies receive 75% of funding from the Fund and are required to match the remaining 25% of costs with funding often derived from revenues from the sale of hunting licenses, permits, and stamps.
Hunting license fees and excise taxes paid by hunters and other outdoor recreationists provide the funds that support the management and conservation of wildlife populations and their habitats. Historically, states have utilized these funds to restore populations of animals such as white-tailed deer, wild turkey, waterfowl, pronghorn, elk, and other economically important species across the United States.
Since the program’s inception, over $12 billion has been collected from hunters and outdoor recreationists and then allocated to state fish and wildlife agencies to fund wildlife conservation and management.
As a result, the amount of critical funding used to manage the majority of wildlife populations is directly proportional to the number of hunters in each state –through both collection and allocation of funds. Preserving and enhancing this user pay/public benefit funding source enables state agencies to continue providing a diversity of high quality outdoor recreational opportunities for all Americans to enjoy.
The increasing urbanization and suburbanization of our human population has made it more difficult for the public to participate in hunting. The average age of American hunters is steadily rising. To prevent the imminent decline in revenue for the Wildlife Restoration Fund, it is necessary to update the provisions of the Pittman-Robertson Act and provide flexibility for state agencies to manage their resources accordingly.
The provisions in H.R 877 will provide state and territorial fish and wildlife agencies the flexibility needed to adapt to the current business environment and develop tools and techniques to recruit, retain, and reactivate hunters and other outdoor recreationists. H.R. 877 would enhance efforts to connect a growing urbanizing and diversifying population with the opportunities to get outdoors, actively acquire their own food sources and experience the numerous health benefits while doing so. The future of conservation will rely on provisions in this bill to build a future reliant on agencies’ ability to restore habitat and confront threats like invasive species and disease, while at the same time engaging more and diverse participants in hunting and America’s outdoor heritage. The passage of H.R. 877 will ensure a continued legacy of hunting and conservation of wild populations for all Americans.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why is H.R. 877 critical to the future of wildlife conservation?
Simply put, there is an increasing body of knowledge that provides effective and efficient solutions to increase the recruitment and retention of new hunters. However, because of the antiquated and unanticipated restrictions in the 1937 legislation, agencies legally cannot use more contemporary approaches. Agencies can quickly respond to wildlife management challenges using science-based approaches but are restricted in their ability to respond to shifting participation trends in hunting. H.R. 877 would ensuring stable funding for conservation for years to come, while at the same time permit agencies to more effectively engage constituents serving to recruit and retain more and diverse participants in hunting.
How does this bill help state fish and wildlife agencies to recruit, retain and reactivate hunters and other outdoor recreationists?
Times have changed since 1937! Now more than ever, state fish and wildlife agencies require modern, innovative, and flexible approaches to wildlife conservation in their states. This bill expands the use of existing PR funds and increases the agencies’ authority to manage programs in their state. Provisions of this bill increase agencies’ flexibility by permitting promotion and extended outreach to more effectively engage new hunters. The Dingell Johnson Act already provides agencies with the ability to promote angling and boating, and H.R. 877 would permit agencies the same parity to do so with hunting. Further, provisions of this bill permit agencies to form collaborative and scalable approaches spanning geographic boundaries and may increase the efficiency of hunter recruitment and retention, thereby increasing conservation funding as well as an agency’s ability to respond to the myriad of diverse conservation challenges they face today.
Who supports H.R. 877?
H.R. 877 has received bipartisan support since the introduction of the original bill in the 114th Congress. The current version has the support of 25 bipartisan cosponsors. Further, H.R. 877 is supported by the Congressional Sportsman Caucus and the directors of the 50 state fish and wildlife agencies. Finally, just as in 1937, numerous conservation nongovernmental organizations and members of outdoor recreation industries, such as archery equipment manufacturers, support this bill.