Policy Pulse: League Supports Effort To Boost Participation in Hunting

In partnership with other national conservation, hunting, and angling groups, state fish and wildlife agencies, and the firearms and archery industries, the League is supporting federal legislation to expand nationwide efforts to recruit and retain more hunters and recreational shooters. Recruiting new participants is essential to sustaining our outdoor traditions and maintaining funding that supports wildlife conservation and habitat restoration in every state.

The legislation (S 2690 and HR 4818) modernizes the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (also known as the Pittman-Robertson Act for the legislation’s congressional sponsors). Under this law, excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment are allocated to states to support wildlife restoration, habitat conservation, hunter education, and development of publicly accessible shooting ranges. The current law, first enacted in 1937, prohibits states from using any of this funding for marketing or public outreach designed to boost participation in hunting or recreational shooting sports.

The new legislation amends Pittman-Robertson to authorize state fish and wildlife agencies to use a portion of the funds they receive for public outreach activities or projects to recruit or retain hunters and recreational shooters. Authorized activities include marketing, education programs, and enhancing access to shooting ranges. The legislation specifically prohibits states from using more than 25% of total funding for public outreach, which ensures that at least 75% of funding will continue to be directed toward traditional wildlife conservation and restoration projects. This amendment aligns Pittman-Robertson with the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act (known as the Dingell-Johnson Act for its congressional sponsors), which authorizes states to use a portion of excise taxes on fishing tackle and motorboat fuel for public outreach and engagement.

The legislation amending Pittman-Robertson also allocates up to $5 million annually in archery-related excise taxes for large grants that support national programs or initiatives focused on recruiting and retaining hunters and recreational shooters. The League has been working with a broad coalition of groups to develop a national strategy to achieve this goal. This funding would be incorporated within an existing grant program that funds nationwide projects.

Our goal is to encourage large majorities in the House and Senate to co-sponsor this legislation. Please urge your Representative and Senators to support this measure. Visit the League’s online advocacy Web site for a sample e-mail to legislators.