TWS supports legislation to empower R3 efforts

By Laura Bies

A new bill aims to increase the number of hunters by supporting recruitment and retention activities.
©Steve Hillebrand, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

TWS sent a letter this week to Rep. Scott Austin, R-Ga., supporting the Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act (H.R. 877), recently introduced in the 116th Congress.

The legislation would allow state wildlife agencies to use certain funds allocated through the Wildlife Restoration Account to build and maintain shooting ranges, and for marketing and communications efforts to recruit, retain and reactive hunters and recreational shooters.

Hunters and recreational shooters provide a substantial amount of funding for wildlife conservation through the purchase of licenses, and through a federal excise tax paid on all firearms, ammunition, bows and arrows. However, the number of hunters in the U.S. has declined in recent decades, which threatens the stability of that funding for wildlife conservation. Recruiting and retaining more hunters and recreational shooters to sustain that funding is the goal of the new bill.

“We, like many others, are concerned by the apparent continued decline in the number of active hunters. Such declines, if they continue, could have long-lasting effects on the Pittman-Robertson Fund’s ability to support robust wildlife restoration and management projects,” states TWS’s letter to Rep. Austin.

A different version of this bill passed the House during the previous session, but it did not progress out of committee in the Senate. TWS submitted testimony last year that generally supported the legislation, but asked legislators to modify the bill to ensure it did not inadvertently result in a reduction of funds available for science-based management and wildlife research efforts. The legislation introduced in this Congress has been modified to address some of TWS’s concerns.

“We encourage and support efforts in the conservation community to stem the decline and reverse this trend. H.R. 877 makes great strides in ensuring the continuation of hunting and shooting sports, and the funding they provide, by permitting state agencies to use funds allocated in certain sections of Pittman-Robertson for the promotion and recruitment of hunters and recreational shooters,” the letter continues.

The Pittman-Robertson Act was enacted in 1937 and has provided more than $15 billion (inflation-adjusted) in funding for state-based wildlife restoration and management.

The bill has been referred to the House Natural Resources Committee for consideration.

Read TWS’s Standing Position on Hunting.

Laura BiesLaura Bies is a government relations contractor and freelance writer for The Wildlife Society. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science and a law degree from George Washington University. Laura has worked with The Wildlife Society since 2005. Read more of Laura's articles.

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