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Boone and Crockett Club Applauds Bill to Advance Hunter Recruitment and Retention
Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Boone and Crockett Club fully supports a new House bill that seeks to advance hunter recruitment and retention. The Modernizing Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow's Needs Act of 2017 (H.R. 2591) will provide technical and financial assistance to states for promoting hunting and recreational shooting.

The bill, introduced by Congressman Austin Scott (GA-08) would allow state fish and wildlife agencies the flexibility they need to address the declining number of hunters by using existing funds from the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Fund to increase hunting and recreational shooting opportunities. The bill will also serve to clarify that one of the purposes of these funds is to provide financial and technical assistance to the states for hunter recruitment and retention, hunter education programs, and education programs to the non-hunting public.

"When the Boone and Crockett Club helped draft and get the Pittman-Robertson Act passed by Congress in 1934, we had lots of hunters and game populations were still recovering," said Ben B. Hollingsworth Jr., president of the Boone and Crockett Club. "Today, game is abundant once again, but declining hunter participation means declining funds. This bill is the right thing to do at the right time to ensure healthy wildlife and ecosystems into the future."

The Pittman-Robertson Act charges sportsmen an excise tax on the purchase of sporting arms and ammunition. These funds are distributed annually to state fish and wildlife agencies for wildlife and habitat conservation programs. Plans for what to do with the money must be submitted to and approved by the Secretary of the Interior. Acceptable options to date include research, surveys, management of wildlife and/or habitat, and acquisition or lease of land. Once a plan has been approved, the state must pay the full cost and is later reimbursed for up to 75 percent of that cost through P-R funds. The 25 percent of the cost that the state must pay generally comes from its hunting license sales. As of 2010, more than two billion in P-R dollars have been collected and distributed to states.

"In its day, Pittman-Robertson addressed the challenges of funding critical conservation work," Hollingsworth Jr. explained. "The challenge of today is keeping these funds coming. Without sportsmen and new hunters coming in, the challenge will be greater."

Conservation funding is based on a user-pay, public-benefit model. Those who value and use the resource pay for its care.

"Sportsmen have taken the responsibility of footing the bill for wildlife and the habitats they depend upon for everyone's benefit," Hollingsworth Jr. concluded. "Choosing to tax themselves in the midst of the Great Depression should tell you something about the character and commitments of hunters."

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