Triggering a Windfall

Firearm sales could mean record wildlife funding

Triggering a Windfall
Triggering a Windfall

The huge volume of gun, ammunition and archery sales in 2012 should mean record funding levels for many fish and game agencies, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

Nearly all state game and fish agencies get their funding from two sources: license and permit sales, and the so-called Federal Aid program, which collects excise taxes on hunting, shooting and fishing gear and sends it back to the states. This program, administered by the USFWS, is hugely important for states, and this year could be even more so.

Steve Barton, chief of the USFWS Federal Aid division, told OutdoorChannel.com that this year his agency will "apportion" (meaning give away to the states according to a formula) $555.3 million for wildlife restoration. That's a record-high figure, a 15 percent increase over the previous high of $484.8 million in 2009.

The largest gain in excise tax revenue was in long guns, rifles and shotguns, "about a 60 percent increase in excise taxes over last year," Barton said. "Pistols and revolvers was 55 percent, and ammunition was 30 percent."


Archery revenue was flat compared to the prior year (2011), but in 2011 increased 22 percent relative to 2010.


Any hunters who have paid even the slightest bit of attention to the national news should know why people are buying guns and ammo – what Barton calls "an election year bump," which also occurred in 2009. He noted the 2009 fiscal year ran from October 2008 (an election year) until September 2009.

But according to Barton it's not just that.

One factor is "the general economic condition of the country," he said. "When I worked at Idaho Fish and Game we saw that during general economic downturns, we actually sold more hunting and fishing licenses. People tended to recreate close to home, so hunting and fishing were things those people picked up instead of going to Cancun or somewhere for vacation."

That fact may be reflected in the 2011 national hunting and fishing survey conducted by the USFWS, which showed a 10 percent increase in the number of hunters over 2006.


"We've also seen an increase in the level of folks who participate in the shooting sports," he said – meaning "people who like to target shoot," and "an increase in youth participation. That's been an increasing trend over a period of time."

(An interesting observation is that youth interest in archery may have been related to the popular The Hunger Games franchise, he said.)

Increasing interest in the shooting sports actually has been a longer-term trend.


"Prior to 2009, you could lay an upward trend line on all of the [excise tax] categories," Barton said, "but certainly not to extent of these two bump years. He noted that "the rate of climb on ammunition was higher than the trend lines for long guns and pistols/revolvers," which "reflects an increase in folks participating in the shooting sports."

Although all this money is ready to go out to the states, two hurdles remain. The first is the whole federal budget mess, which at this writing remains unresolved. The second is the fact that the states have to match this Federal Aid money to get it, on a $1 state to $3 federal ratio.

Barton noted that hunters and anglers can help state agencies do this by volunteering because volunteer time and labor can be valued as matching dollars.

"This is a great opportunity for states to do some tremendous one-time habitat acquisition or development," he said. "It's just a matter of coming up with the matching monies to get it done."

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

MLF BPT angler and former Classic champ Casey Ashley has been with Costa del Mar sunglasses his whole career. At ICAST 2019, he shows OSG writer Lynn Burkhead some new products and talks how to pick the right lens color for the water.

13 Fishing Omen Black Baitcasting Rod

13 Fishing Omen Black Baitcasting Rod

Multiple time FLW Costa winner Jessi Mizell is no stranger to catching big Florida bass on a popping frog. As he tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead, with the new 13 Fishing Omen Black baitcasting rod, the job just got easier.

Electric Filet Knife from Bubba Blades

Electric Filet Knife from Bubba Blades

As OSG's Lynn Burkhead looks on, Josh Neville shows off the cordless and corded versions of a new electric filet knife from Bubba Blades.

New Optimum and Optimum TS Downriggers from Canon

New Optimum and Optimum TS Downriggers from Canon

From rugged reliability to smooth integration of cutting edge technology across several different platforms, OSG's Lynn Burkhead learns that there's much to like about the new Optimum and Optimum TS downriggers from Canon.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the biggest pike come from Europe. Records

Top 10 Biggest Pike World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - August 19, 2015

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the...

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish time after time. Catfish

10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About

Anietra Hamper

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish...

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some strategies. Catfish

Understanding Catfish Spawning

Keith Sutton - June 06, 2006

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some...

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures? Other Freshwater

5 Great Lures For Bluegills

Stephen D. Carpenteri - March 10, 2011

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures?

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

A father and daughter with their dogs on a dry ground mountain lion hunt get more than they bargain Stories

Arizona Mountain Lion Hunt Turns Into Dangerous Jaguar Encounter

Aaron Decker - November 30, 2011

A father and daughter with their dogs on a dry ground mountain lion hunt get more than they...

 Brian Meyer likes to have coyotes within 20 yards! He uses an SKB shotgun for his coyote killing Stories

Coyote Calling Tips for Hunting at Close Range

Tim Lilley - January 09, 2014

Brian Meyer likes to have coyotes within 20 yards! He uses an SKB shotgun for his coyote...

How a humble Virginia hunter bagged the biggest non-typical whitetail a bowhunter has ever seen. Whitetail

The Story Behind Brewster's World-Record Buck

Lynn Burkhead - October 17, 2019

How a humble Virginia hunter bagged the biggest non-typical whitetail a bowhunter has ever...

Could the northern stretches of the Lone Star State one day rival the south for big-buck supremacy? Whitetail

The Next ‘Big Tex' for Trophy Bucks?

Jordan Michaels - October 18, 2019

Could the northern stretches of the Lone Star State one day rival the south for big-buck...

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.