Pittman-Robertson Act and Hunting

By Tyler Gillette

Did you know that hunters and fishermen help fund the majority of conservation funding in the United States today? There are two main laws that help with wildlife restoration and sport fish restoration, and they are the Pittman-Robertson Act and the Dingell-Johnson Act. There are a lot of mixed views when it comes to hunting and hunters mainly because of poaching; however, hunting can be used for conservation. It is also a way to eat locally and potentially decrease your carbon footprint.

Pittman-Robertson Act

The Pittman-Robertson Act was put into place in 1938. This act provides funding for acquisition, development and management of habitat for wildlife restoration. The act places an 11 percent federal excise tax on sporting arms, ammunition and archery equipment as well as an 10 percent tax for handguns. This tax is placed on each of these items for purchases. The funds are allocated to the states by a formula using the total area of the state and the number of licensed hunters in the state. State agencies use the funds to cover up to 75 percent of a project’s cost and the state funds the other 25 percent.

Dingell-Johnson Act

The Dingell-Johnson Act or Sport Fish Restoration Program places an excise tax on fishing tackle such as rods and reels, line, hooks and sinkers, all types of artificial lures, electric motors, import duties on boats, sailboats and yachts and a motorboat fuel tax on gasoline. This money is only available for sport fish management activities. Once again the state pays 25 percent, and the fund pays 75 percent of a project.

Both of these acts are very important in funding conservation and helping wildlife and sports fish because the money only goes to wildlife, hunting, sports fish or boating activities. This also includes research and management. Currently it is mainly only hunters, anglers and boaters who are paying for these wildlife restoration and sports fish restoration projects through the taxing of their equipment. This benefits everyone else who enjoys the outdoors, even if they do not do any of these activities. In my opinion, hikers and other miscellaneous outdoor users should also pay excise taxes on their gear so that everyone who does outdoor activities helps with conservation as well, since 70 percent of people that use areas that are funded from this Act are not hunting.

Economics of Hunting

For the Pittman-Robertson Act, $8 billion has been collected from the tax since 1939 and has resulted in the purchase of 4 million acres for wildlife. On top of these government funded programs there are many hunting NGOs such as Pheasants Forever and Ducks Unlimited that support and donate money for conservation.

These laws are one way that hunting provides and helps with conservation. Hunting is also helpful when managing wildlife for conservation because when there is not enough predators, hunters can help bring down population numbers. But, there are some species such as white-tailed deer in Ohio that are so overpopulated that even hunting is not enough, and this is why predators need to be protected and have higher numbers. Overpopulation of deer creates overbrowsing of vegetation which deteriorates our forests.

Poaching vs Hunting

There is also a difference in the kind of hunting that most people do and poaching. Poaching is hunting more frequently than allowed or hunting something that you should not. This is not good for wildlife, and it is not sustainable. Normal hunting practices, if done correctly, should be a sustainable practice. Trophy hunting does not usually help with conservation at all because most trophy hunts are done on large species that are usually already low in numbers. They also most likely have long life histories that make it hard for them to gain more population.

Hunters Eating Locally

With climate change being an issue today, one of the solutions everyone mentions is eating more locally. Hunters are good at this because they usually hunt and eat what is provided right where they live. They usually do not have to travel much or create a larger amount of emissions. This is also why hunting is sustainable and a helpful way at combating climate change.

Hopefully, you have learned that hunters and fisherman play a vital role in conservation and help the eating local movement. So, if you have not today or recently, please thank a hunter!

Photo by Tyler Gillette

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