Excise taxes collected on firearms and ammunition could reach a record payout for wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation activities in 2013, according to a preliminary U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) report. Funds from the Wildlife Restoration Program are estimated to surpass $500 million in 2013, up from $371 million in 2012.
Excise tax on the sale of shotguns and rifles, ammunition, archery equipment, handguns, angling equipment are collected and redistributed to states though grants as part of the federal Wildlife Restoration Program (WR). Authorized by the Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson PR) of 1937, the program provides funding for restoring, conserving, managing and enchancing wild birds and mammals and their habitat. Funding also goes toward providing public use and access to wildlife resources, hunter education and development and management of shooting ranges, according to the USFWS.
The previous high paid out by the program was in 2010 when $474 million went toward conservation. Hannibal Bolton, director of the Federal Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, told the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel that the spike in funds comes from a number of factors, including a growing number of firearm and archery equipment sold and a better economic situation.
Bolton said archery sales have risen with the popularity of the film-adapted book The Hunger Games. More money is also being collected as firearm sales spike and because the overall economy has improved, allowing people to make purchases they otherwise would have put off.
According to a 2011 USFWS flyer, the program has already collected, distributed and matched more than $13 billion with funds from state agencies. All money from the excise tax and also a motorboat fuel tax goes toward fish and wildlife management, species and habitat restoration, habitat protection, land acquisition, scientific study, population monitoring, hunting and aquatic education, and access for hunting, fishing and boating.