What is Pittman-Robertson?

Often you will hear hunters talk about Pittman-Robertson and how much hunters give to conservation efforts through licenses, fees, excise taxes, etc.  In fact, you’ve heard that from me before.  So, as we continue to briefly look at the North American Wildlife Conservation Model, today, we look at Pittman-Robertson.

Pittman-Robertson is the common name for the Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937.  It was sponsored by Senator Key Pittman of Nevada (D) and Representative Willis Robertson of Virginia (D).  This piece of legislation collects an 11% excise tax on guns, ammunition and archery equipment and places it into an account for several uses:

·      Administration of the program

·      Multi-state conservation grant program

·      Hunter education enhancements

·      Anything left over after a certain time period automatically goes to migratory bird programs

Pittman-Robertson money cannot be re-appropriated by the states, it must be used to fund approved conservation projects.  According to Dr. Scott Shalaway, “Funds are distributed to the states based on a formula that takes into account each state’s land and water area and the number of paid hunting/fishing license holders. This insures that larger, sparsely populated, western states can compete for funds fairly with smaller, more densely populated eastern states.”  The money does not have to go specifically to game animals, but any conservation project deemed necessary by the state wildlife agency. 

In summary, hunters (and other archery and firearm enthusiasts) don’t just pay for the conservation and preservation of game animals that they hunt, but habitat improvement for all species and many projects directly aimed at non-game animals.  Pittman-Robertson dollars are in addition to funds received from hunting licenses and tags, wildlife habitat stamps and other programs and fees necessary to hunt. 

Find out more directly at the USFWS site.