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Pittman-Robertson Modernization Act Passes House Natural Resources Committee, Will Re-energize Hunting Participation and Conservation Funding

Excise taxes on hunting, shooting equipment fund state wildlife conservation efforts

Washington, DC — The House Natural Resources Committee today passed the Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act (Pittman-Robertson Modernization Act), which will strengthen hunters’ ongoing support for wildlife conservation and ensure hunting, shooting sports, and outdoor recreation remain central to America’s wildlife heritage.

The legislation — sponsored by Reps. Austin Scott (R-Ga.), Marc Veasey (D-Texas), and Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) — would grow the ranks and diversity of hunters who support conservation efforts through excise taxes on firearms and equipment.

“The health of the lands, waters, and wildlife we care deeply about depend on funds generated through the excise tax applied through the Pittman-Robertson Act,” said Marcia Brownlee, program manager for Artemis Sportswomen with the National Wildlife Federation. “The participation of women is one segment of hunting that is increasing, and this legislation can help reach a more diverse demographic and reverse the current decline of hunting participation and conservation funding.”

The Pittman-Robertson Modernization Act would authorize some funding from Pittman-Robertson excise taxes on hunting and shooting equipment to be spent by state wildlife agencies on recruiting and marketing to hunters and recreational shooters in order to reverse declines in hunting participation, which provides funding for wildlife conservation. The bill maintains existing funding streams for wildlife conservation from the excise taxes.

“This legislation is critical to bolstering and diversifying the ranks of hunters and anglers who provide the bulk of wildlife conservation funding through state license fees and federal excise taxes on firearms and hunting equipment through the Pittman-Robertson Act,” said Mike Leahy, director of hunting, fishing, and wildlife policy for the National Wildlife Federation. “Thank you to the Committee members who advanced this important update to our bedrock conservation funding mechanism.”

The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, commonly known at the Pittman-Robertson Act, includes an 11 percent tax on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment that is apportioned to state wildlife agencies each year for wildlife conservation and hunter education. The National Wildlife Federation helped lead a coalition to pass the Pittman-Robertson Act in 1937 when many now-common wildlife species populations were in crisis. Since distributions began in 1939, it has provided $18.8 billion to state fish and wildlife agencies, all funded by hunters and recreational shooters, and helped recover iconic game species like wild turkey, white-tailed deer, and elk from scarcity to surplus.

However, the number of hunters has declined in recent decades, from 14.1 million hunters in 1991 to 11.5 million by 2016, according to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, & Wildlife-Associated Recreation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and projections forecast that number may continue to drop without the efforts that the Pittman-Robertson Modernization Act will allow.

Learn about the National Wildlife Federation's work with hunters and anglers at www.nwf.org/outdoors.

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