Proposed Modernization Legislation Offers Critical Flexibility for State Wildlife Agencies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
July 15, 2019

Media Contact:
Samantha Pedder
samantha@cahss.org

Proposed Modernization Legislation Offers Critical Flexibility for State Wildlife Agencies

Washington, D.C. – The Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports (Council), along with many of its partners, applauds the bipartisan reintroduction of the S. 2092: Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act (Pittman-Robertson Modernization Act) in the Senate on Friday by Senators James Risch (R-ID), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Doug Jones (D-AL), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Angus King (ME-I), and John Boozman (R-AR).

“This legislation will make important updates to the Pittman-Robertson Fund to ensure future generations can carry on this treasured pastime of hunting and recreational shooting while conserving wildlife for outdoorsmen and women to enjoy and experience,” commented Senator Risch. The new legislation would grow the ranks of Americans who support conservation efforts through excise taxes on firearms and other equipment by permitting state fish and wildlife agencies the flexibility needed to effectively recruit, retain, and reactivate (R3) participants.

The Pittman-Robertson Act has been instrumental in recovering many of America’s wildlife species since it was originally passed in 1937 to distribute an excise tax on firearms and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies for conservation efforts. It includes an 11% tax on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment that is apportioned to state wildlife agencies each year for wildlife conservation and education efforts. Since distributions began in 1939, it has provided $18.8 billion to state fish and wildlife agencies, all funded by hunters and recreational shooters.

Participation in hunting has been declining in recent years and the continued changes in participation pose significant risks to the current funding available for conservation efforts nationwide. State fish and wildlife agencies have invested significantly in R3 efforts to reverse these declines and to evolve strategic efforts to recruit and retain new participants. Currently, state agencies have the flexibility to market and communicate with anglers and boaters through a provision in the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act. A recent report released by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, American Sportfishing Association, and Southwick Associates demonstrates that agencies have seen increased participation in fishing when agencies created wide-reaching R3 programs in conjunction with including coordinated marketing and communications strategies.

“State agencies are making as many investments in R3 as they can. However, the current language of the Pittman-Robertson Act is restricting agencies from effectively engaging new and current hunters using federal funds,” stated John Frampton, CEO and President of the Council. “This proposed Pittman-Robertson Modernization legislation includes language which parallels those existing provisions in the Sport Fish Restoration Act.”

The success of R3 efforts will help to sustain the current funding model for the future and also help to build and connect a new generation of Americans with the outdoors. “State fish and wildlife agencies’ jobs are only becoming more complex as they face new challenges through the management of diseases such as Chronic Wasting Disease, increasingly diversifying and urbanizing constituent base, and much more,” stated Frampton. “Now is when agencies need more resources and flexibility to effectively manage the people and natural resources in their states.”

Frampton concluded, “Agencies have made the investments in R3 strategies. The research demonstrates effective ways to address these challenges. Now we, as the conservation community, just need the opportunity to act, and the Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act provides just that.”

The Council joins its partners in encouraging the swift bipartisan passage of the S. 2092: Pittman-Robertson Modernization Act.

To learn more about the Pittman-Robertson Modernization Act, please visit https://cahss.org/pittman-robertson-modernization-act/

To learn more about R3 efforts, visit https://cahss.org/what-is-r3/.

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