Dismantling Successful Wildlife Conservation Program Will Harm Wildlife, Sporting Traditions

DENVER – Hunters and anglers denounced new legislation that would dismantle the nation’s most successful wildlife conservation funding program that has raised billions of dollars for wildlife over the past 85 years. The landmark program, established by the Pittman-Robertson Act and Dingell-Johnson Act, invests in habitat restoration and other state-directed wildlife conservation measures by setting aside the revenue raised by the federal excise tax on firearms, ammunition, archery, and fishing equipment. The RETURN Act, introduced by Congressman Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) and co-sponsored by 57 others, would gut these measures, which last year alone provided $1.5 billion in funding for state wildlife agencies. In addition, the RETURN Act eliminates all federal funding for game management, hunter education, and shooting range safety programs by repealing the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Fund. 

“We cannot more strongly denounce the RETURN Act and its misguided aims to dismantle the Pittman-Robertson Act. The Pittman-Robertson Act is a universally renowned conservation success story and has helped us create the North American model for wildlife conservation that has made our nation the envy of the world. The RETURN Act would undercut one of the most important ways responsible hunters and anglers have helped wildlife thrive for future generations for nearly a century,” said Aaron Kindle, director of sporting advocacy at the National Wildlife Federation. “Even more onerous is the way this bill would amplify the real problems facing our nation and our wildlife.  With one-third of all species at heightened risk of extinction, Chronic Wasting Disease spreading, and habitat loss increasing daily, this is precisely the wrong time to cut funding for wildlife. Hunters and anglers know it is vital to keep Pittman-Robertson in place and we are ready to fight this bill tooth and nail.”

“Hunters and anglers have had a long tradition of being good stewards of our nation’s lands and wildlife. For 85 years, Pittman-Robertson has generated funding to pay for the acquisition and restoration of critical wildlife habitat, and directly recover wildlife populations. It has also helped with hunter training and recruitment and expanded opportunities for outdoor recreation,” said Mike Butler, chief executive officer at the Tennessee Wildlife Federation. “The RETURN Act would upend a wildly successful program that has been a bedrock of funding for state wildlife agencies.” 

“Pittman-Robertson is critical to robust wildlife populations for future generations. Last year, it raised $1.5 billion so that state wildlife managers could pursue their work successfully managing wildlife,” said Joy Bannon, executive director of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation. “I urge members of Congress to reject the RETURN Act, which would completely undermine wildlife conservation as we know it.” 




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