Delta Waterfowl Opposes Legislation to Dismantle Sportsmen-Led Conservation Funding

A group of duck hunters with decoys in a knee-deep water in North Carolina.

On June 22, Congressman Andrew Clyde (GA-09) introduced H.R. 8167, the RETURN (Repealing Excise Tax on Unalienable Rights Now) Our Constitutional Rights Act. This legislation would repeal the Pittman Robertson Act and dismantle the incredible legacy that sportsmen and women and recreational shooters have created in directly supporting state-based conservation funding.

Passed in 1937, the Pittman-Robertson Act (P-R) places a 10% or 11% excise tax on firearms and ammunition that is then allocated to state fish and wildlife agencies to restore and manage fish and wildlife species, open and maintain access for hunters, and provide hunter education. To date, this act has provided billions of dollars for conservation and has been credited with restoring wildlife species populations, including the wood duck.

“HR 8167 is a clear afront to our ability to conserve wildlife habitat, manage species and provide recreational opportunities to hunters and recreational shooters,” states John Devney, Delta Waterfowl Chief Policy Officer. “The very origins of the Pittman-Robertson Act were born from the realization that habitat, wildlife abundance and access to hunting demanded a funding model to provide financial support to state fish and wildlife agencies to do this important work. To be blunt, this legislation seeks to dismantle the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, the most successful model of its kind in the world.

Funds from P-R are used by state fish and wildlife agencies for a wide variety of purposes, including research, species monitoring programs for both game and non-game animals, the purchase of state Wildlife Management Areas, hunter education programs and more. Recently, Congress granted states the authority to use funds for the development of recreational shooting facilities, providing critically important places for the public to shoot as well as to effectively market hunting and recreational shooting opportunities to the next generation of hunters.

“This legislation is not just a bad idea—it is a reckless one,” Devney cautions. “Undoing the foundation of this successful funding mechanism would mean less habitat, less wildlife and less public access to hunt. This is not what Delta Waterfowl members or hunters across the country want. As a result, we strongly oppose HR 8167 and encourage all sportsmen and women to do the same.”

Delta Waterfowl will be mobilizing its members through the Duck Hunters Action Alert System to contact their members of Congress as well as the original co-sponsors of the legislation to educate them on the successful track record this funding model has established since its inception nearly a century ago.