I have been interested in species protection since I was a child – not only for wild animals, but also for non-wild animals. I spent my college career learning about wild places and wild things and the real meaning of public land and water and the creatures that live there. It wasn’t until I got much older that I realized how the system works and, above all, how it is financed.
Having been a small business owner for most of my adult life, my entrepreneurship tends to follow money in most situations to see and learn how things work. Learning how conservation works, especially funding, is a story that, in my opinion, is not being told nearly enough.
To help with my point, I have relied on the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms industry. They recently marked a milestone as firearms and ammunition manufacturers made more than $ 14.1 billion in contributions to the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund since it was founded in 1937.
“This is truly a remarkable conservation win,” said Joe Bartozzi, President and CEO of NSSF. “This fund was responsible for the restoration and recovery of America’s iconic wildlife, including the Rocky Mountain moose, white-tailed deer, pronghorn, wild turkey and a wide variety of waterfowl. It is also responsible for funding the recreation and conservation of non-wildlife species, including the American bald eagle, reptiles, fauna, and conservation areas that enable them to thrive. The firearms industry prides itself on performing such an important and vital role in ensuring that America’s wildlife is preserved in abundance for future generations. “
The Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund, commonly known as the Pittman-Robertson Fund or Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax, is a tax paid by gun and ammunition manufacturers on the products they make. The excise tax is 11 percent of the wholesale price for long guns and ammunition and 10 percent of the wholesale price for handguns. The excise duty payable by manufacturers and importers applies in principle to all firearms that are manufactured or imported for commercial sale, regardless of whether they are used for recreational shooting, hunting or personal defense. The tax is currently administered by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) at the Treasury Department, which transfers funds to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
The USFWS then deposits the Pittman-Robertson earnings in a special account called the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund, which is administered by the USFWS. These funds are made available to states and territories in the year following their collection.
These 10 to 11 percent excise tax monies, collected since 1937 under the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, are specifically intended to be used by state wildlife protection agencies. Collectively, gun and ammunition buyers, hunters and industry are the largest source of conservation funding.
If you’re interested in wildlife conservation and how the model works in America, take some time to delve deeper and I bet you will find some surprising facts about how things actually work. It’s a great story that needs to be remembered every now and then. Besides, who doesn’t love a great story?