About the Study Guide

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Who pays for wildlife management in Washington?

You and your fellow hunters pay for most wildlife management activities in our state. The Department of Fish and Wildlife receives much of its money from the sale of hunting licenses and tags. License sales generally account for one-half of the money spent by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Pittman-Robertson Act logo

Your WDFW hunting license purchases bring in millions of dollars each year. The department’s Wildlife Program uses this revenue to manage game species such as elk, deer, bear, cougar, small game, waterfowl, and turkey. Another important contribution to the department budget is money that is received each year from the federal fund established by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (also known as the Pittman–Robertson Act). Firearms, ammunition, and certain archery products are all subject to a special tax that is paid by the manufacturer at the time the product is made. Money from this tax is shared each year among the 50 states, and it is used for wildlife management activities. Without license sales from hunters like you, the department could not offer most of the hunting opportunities that abound throughout the state.

Pittman-Robertson Act

  • 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, and 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.