Photo courtesy of Mike Saechang.
Say what you will about the current effort by the Obama Administration and gun-hating lawmakers to restrict firearms manufacture and sales in the U.S., but the resulting unprecedented surge in the purchase of firearms and ammo translates into record revenues for wildlife habitat, public hunting lands and state game agencies.
And for sportsmen and women, that’s a good thing.
According to preliminary reports, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expects to have collected a record $570 million in excise taxes on sporting equipment under the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act for 2012. That’s the tax collected on the sale of all shotguns and rifles (11 percent), ammunition (11 percent), archery equipment (11 percent) and handguns (10 percent).
“It’s off the chain; it really is,” said Hannibal Bolton, assistant director of the service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. “This is the highest increase we’ve seen, ever.”
The $570 million estimate is nearly $100 million more than the previous high of $474 million collected for 2010, and around $180 million more than the $390 million for 2011.
“We’re definitely heading to new territory,” said Bolton.
Created by the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937, Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration laid the groundwork for what is now widely regarded as the most successful model of wildlife funding in the world. The program aids fish and wildlife management, scientific study, species and habitat restoration, habitat protection, land acquisition, population monitoring and hunter education and safety.
Bolton said each category has contributed to an increase in Pittman-Robertson funds this year. The sale of ammunition is up the most and “really driving the pack,” he said, though the sale of long guns also is up significantly.
And if gun, ammo and accessory sales for the first few weeks of 2013 are any indication, the present political climate could easily push P-R revenues into uncharted territory by year-end.