America's Gun-Buyers, Sportsmen Generate $882M for Wildlife Conservation in 2012

By Susan Jones | March 25, 2013 | 10:57 AM EDT

Duck hunting (Photo from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Website)

( - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says America's hunters, shooters, fishermen and boaters generated more than $882.4 million in excise tax revenues in 2012, up from the $749 million generated in 2011.

The money will be distributed to all 50 states and territories to fund fish and wildlife conservation and recreation projects across the nation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on Friday.

“The sporting community has provided the financial and spiritual foundation for wildlife conservation in America for more than 75 years,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “Through these programs, hunters, anglers, recreational boaters and target shooters continue to fund vital fish and wildlife management and conservation, recreational boating access, and hunter and aquatic education programs.”

The money comes from excise taxes on the sale of firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing equipment and tackle, and electric outboard motors. Recreational boaters also contribute to the program through fuel taxes on motorboats and small engines.

The funds are made available to all 50 states and territories through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program, launched in 1937; and the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Program, which started in 1950.

Since their inception, the two programs have generated a total of more than $15.3 billion to conserve fish and wildlife resources, USFWS said.

“The financial support from America’s hunting, shooting sports, fishing and boating community through their purchases of excise taxable equipment and hunting and fishing licenses is the lifeblood for funding fish and wildlife conservation; supporting public safety education; and opening access for outdoor recreation that benefits everyone,” said Jeff Vonk, president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks.

“Fish and wildlife can be conserved, protected and restored through science-based management, and it is critical that all these taxes collected be apportioned to advance conservation efforts in the field.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service says the funding is critical to sustaining healthy fish and wildlife populations and providing opportunities for all to connect with nature.