The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, popularly known as the Pittman–Robertson Act, was approved by Congress in 1937.
- The act provides funding for the selection, restoration, and improvement of wildlife habitat and for wildlife management research. The act was amended in 1970 to include funding for hunter education programs and for the development and operation of public target ranges.
- Funds for the act come from an 11% federal excise tax on sporting arms, ammunition, and archery equipment, as well as a 10% tax on handguns. One-half of the excise tax on handguns and archery equipment is used for hunter education and target ranges. These funds are collected from the manufacturers and are distributed each year to the states and territorial areas by the Department of the Interior.
- Each state’s proportion of the federal funds is based on the area of the state and the number of licensed hunters in the state. The state covers the full amount of an approved project and then applies for reimbursement through federal aid for up to 75% of the project’s expenses; the state is responsible for the other 25% of the project’s cost.
- Non-hunting nature lovers equally benefit from this funding since it supports the management of wildlife areas and wetlands as well as game and non-game wildlife.
- “Robertson’s 29 words” are a clause in the act’s language to prevent states from diverting license fees paid by hunters away from their intended purpose: “… And which shall include a prohibition against the diversion of license fees paid by hunters for any other purpose than the administration of said State fish and game department….”