Wyoming received roughly $19.5 million in excise tax money this year from firearms and ammunition sales – several million more than any of the previous four years, according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
That’s good news for all of Wyoming’s wildlife, Game and Fish deputy director John Kennedy told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday.
“It echoes into other species besides just those that are hunted and fished,” he said.
The money is earmarked for wildlife conservation or related projects and allocated to the states through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). It comes through what is commonly called the Pittman-Robertson fund.
The Game and Fish uses its share to help pay for conservation, public access and facilities improvement projects, Kennedy said. Game and Fish is reimbursed 75 percent though the Pitman Robertson funds.
Firearms and ammunition manufacturers paid $300,498,588.23 nationwide in excise taxes during the first quarter, according to press releases about a Treasury Department report posted online and in social media by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). The first quarter was Jan. 1- March 31, 2022.
Pittman-Robertson funding to the Wyoming Game and Fish for 2022 was $19,488,247, according to department records. That’s compared to:
2018 — $13,861,148
2019 — $11,741,122
2020 – $10,465,276
2021 — $11,877,842
“This is hunters and sports shooters supporting wildlife conservation,” Game and Fish public information officer Sara DiRienzo told Cowboy State Daily.
The money is parsed to the states based in part upon how many licensed hunters and anglers each state has, she said.
Although this year’s share is exceptional, Pittman-Robertson Funds have grown significantly over several years, thanks to continuing brisk firearms and ammunition sales, Kennedy said.
“There’s been a lot of press about it,” which in turn has led to many organizations across the state calling Game and Fish to request help with projects, he said.
Projects must be “coded” toward criteria set by the FWS for conservation or wildlife management, he said. Exactly which project this year’s funds might go toward hasn’t been determined yet. Some likely candidates include continuing research into wildlife disease, wildlife habitat and migration corridor protection, and improvements to facilities such as shooting ranges that are open to the public.
Funds from other federal excise tax programs, such as those from sales of fishing tackle and boat fuel, also help bolster the Game and fish operations budget. That total budget is roughly $90 million this year, Kennedy said.
The Game and Fish is also funded through sales of hunting and fishing licenses. It also receives funds from the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission specifically for high-priority projects, such as research into chronic wasting disease in deer and elk, Kennedy said. That amounted to about $7 million this year. Game and Fish doesn’t get any money from the Wyoming Legislature’s general fund.