A mechanism that in effect makes everyone who purchases firearms or ammunition a conservationist has reached a new milestone.

The Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund, better known as the Pittman-Robertson fund, is fueled through excise taxes paid by gun and ammunition makers on their products at a rate of 11 percent on long guns and ammo and 10 percent on handguns. The tax flows from the Treasury Department to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which in turn makes it available to state conservation agencies.

The caveat is that the funds sent to the states can only be used for a few things: providing public use and access to wildlife resources, habitat preservation, hunter education, and the development and management of public shooting ranges. 

First authorized in 1937, the record $1.5 billion in annual funding made available earlier this year pushed the total funds since it was established to well over the $15 billion mark. These funds have made a massive impact on America’s wilds over the decades. 

"The Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund, which is mainly funded by taxes paid by firearm and ammunition manufacturers, has been responsible for the restoration and recovery of America’s iconic game species, including the Rocky Mountain elk, whitetail deer, pronghorn antelope, wild turkey and a variety of waterfowl," said Joe Bartozzi, President and CEO of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. "These funds have also contributed to the recovery of non-game species that are not hunted, including the American bald eagle. The firearm and ammunition industry is filled with pride to achieve this landmark for conservation funding and the role our industry plays to ensure America’s wildlife is perpetuated for future generations."

Banner image: Springfield Armory M1A (Photo: Springfield Armory)

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