Pittman-Robertson Act Marks 75 Years Of Conservation Success

This week marks the 75th anniversary of the Pittman-Robertson Act and hunters and recreational shooters across the country can give themselves a pat on the back for their contributions to wildlife and conservation.

It would be safe to say that few programs have played a greater role in improving wildlife habitat. From national wildlife refuges to state wildlife management areas, Pittman-Robertson is an essential source of funding for on-the-ground habitat work.

The act is named after Nevada Sen. Key Pittman and Virginia Rep. Absalom Willis Robertson, who sponsored the legislation that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed into law on Sept. 2, 1937. Pittman-Robertson imposed an 11 percent tax on guns and ammunition to fund wildlife habitat and related conservation projects.

According to a news release that crossed my desk this week from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the act raises more than $280 million annually for conservation and has generated more than $2 billion since its passage. States receive a portion of the tax based on a formula that includes their size and number of licensed hunters.

“Hunting is conservation. There is no greater proof of that than hunters who successfully lobbied government so many years ago to tax themselves — all for the benefit of wildlife,” David Allen, president and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, said in a statement. “That continuing and ever-increasing funding remains the lion’s share for today’s conservation efforts, too.”