Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program Celebrates a Successful 75 Years

   01.18.12

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) program just wrapped up a successful conference at the 2012 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Among discussion of the programs recent success in the local Nevada area with bighorn sheep restoration, WSFR’s biggest goal is to get the word out about the program and remind people of its continued success and existence in its 75 years of work. And with 50,000 people attending SHOT Show, this is a very effective way to get the word out.

Lee Walker works for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. He recalls the condition of wildlife 75 years ago before the program was inacted. “In Virginia it was rare to see wild game like turkey or deer,” Walker said. It wasn’t until the 1920s that people began to understand the implications of unregulated hunting which helped to spawn the program in 1937.

What the WSFR does is ensure that funding reaches those state agencies responsible for wildlife conservation in their respective areas. Walker described funding as a sustainable cycle made possible by three main groups. Manufacturer’s of sporting equipment, sportsmen and state wildlife agencies. Sportsmen purchase sporting equipment (and fuel) of which there is an excise tax on certain products. The excise tax is collected and distributed by WSFR to state agencies to aid conservation efforts. In turn, game population is well managed and sportsmen can enjoy the best hunting and fishing available.

Without that money, the population of game in Virginia (and elsewhere) wouldn’t be possible. “They are now at the best and highest level that we’ve seen in years,” Walker said. “The good old days are right now. It couldn’t be a better time to get in the outdoors to enjoy the sport of hunting and fishing. The reason for us having that opportunity is because of the WSFR fund.”

Throughout the year, WSFR will be attending many more large and small trade shows and events to remind those state agencies, equipment manufacturers and sportsmen of the programs benefits.

Information supplied by Lee Walker, the Outreach Director for Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Facts and statistics were gathered from the downloadable fact sheet PDF on the WSFR75 website.

Original Press Release Issued By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on January 17th, 2012:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) joins the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) and other partners at the 2012 SHOT-SHOW to announce the start of a yearlong celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR), one of the most significant and successful partnership approaches to fish and wildlife conservation in U.S. history.

The “WSFR 75 – It’s Your Nature” celebration brings together federal and state fish and wildlife agencies; the hunting, shooting, angling, and boating industries; and conservation groups to mark a milestone of partnership success that has led to 75 years of quality hunting, fishing, shooting, boating and wildlife-related recreation. The occasion also marks the beginning of a new era in wildlife conservation, during which the partners will establish new goals for fostering and maintaining partnerships to continue conservation and outdoor recreation into the next 75 years and beyond.

“The Service is proud to join our partners in recognizing more than seven decades of wildlife conservation and quality outdoor recreational opportunities,” said Director Dan Ashe of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “With our nation’s support and our partnership’s renewed commitment, WSFR will help more Americans enjoy wildlife and our great outdoors for many years to come.”

Through the WSFR program, several innovative and foundational fish and wildlife conservation programs are administered. The first was created on September 2, 1937 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, which raises funds through a dedicated excise tax on sporting guns and ammunition. In 1950, the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act was enacted and added to the WSFR program. Through this law, funds are provided for fish conservation and boating and fishing recreational programs in each state through an excise tax placed on certain fishing and boating equipment and fuels.

“Since its 1937 inception, WSFR has provided more than $14 billion to support fish and wildlife restoration and management,” said Hannibal Bolton, the Service’s assistant director for the WSFR program. “The program and its partners, including the sporting arms industry, conservation groups, and sportsmen and sportswomen, are coming together for this anniversary to renew their commitment to conserve fish and wildlife and enhance hunter, angler, and boater recreation.”

These funds, administered by the Service, are combined with hunting license dollars in each state to fund important state wildlife conservation and hunting programs.

“The 75th anniversary of the WSFR program is a tremendous opportunity to celebrate the conservation victories that have been made possible because of this innovative funding approach,” said Jonathan Gassett, PhD, president, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “WSFR has made the difference for the survival and abundance of some species, and because of it, many fish and wildlife populations are at historically high levels today.”

Industry and agency partnerships have helped the WSFR program to become what it is today.

“The WSFR programs have not only supported fish and wildlife conservation, they have also supported small businesses that manufacture and sell hunting and fishing equipment,” said Myke Lynch, general manager of Green Top Sporting Goods in Richmond, Virginia. “The industry supporting sportsmen has a multi-million-dollar impact on the nation’s economy, and it depends on healthy fish and wildlife populations.”

The WSFR 75th anniversary will include participation in various fish and wildlife conservation events and conferences throughout the year, to culminate with National Hunting and Fishing Day in September 2012.

For more information about the WSFR program and its 75th Anniversary in 2012, visit:

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