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Since I was a child, I have always been interested in wildlife conservation — not only game animals, but non-game animals as well.

I spent my college days learning about wild places and wild things, the true meaning of public lands and waters and the critters that live there.

It wasn’t until I got much older that I realized how the system worked and, more important, how it is funded.

Being a small-business owner for most of my adult life, my entrepreneur spirit tends to follow the money in most situations to see and learn how things work.

Learning how wildlife conservation works, especially the funding, is a story that doesn’t get told nearly enough.

To assist with my point, I leaned on the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearm industry trade association.

NSSF recently marked a milestone achievement when firearm and ammunition manufacturers topped $14.1 billion in contributions to the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund since its inception in 1937.

“This is truly a remarkable win for wildlife conservation,” said Joe Bartozzi, NSSF’s president and CEO.

“This fund has been responsible for the restoration and recovery of America’s iconic game species, including the Rocky Mountain elk, whitetail deer, pronghorn antelope, wild turkeys and a variety of waterfowl. It is also responsible for funding the recovery and conservation of non-game species, including the American bald eagle, reptiles, fauna and conservation lands that allow them to thrive. The firearm industry is proud to perform such an important and vital function to ensure America’s wildlife remains abundant for future generations.”

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The Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund, commonly known as the Pittman-Robertson fund or Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax, is a tax paid by firearm and ammunition manufacturers on the products they produce.

The excise tax is set at 11% of the wholesale price for long guns and ammunition and 10% of the wholesale price for handguns.

The excise tax, paid by manufacturers and importers, applies basically to all firearms produced or imported for commercial sales, whether their purpose is for recreational shooting, hunting or personal defense.

The tax is administered by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau in the Department of the Treasury, which turns the funds over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

USFWS then deposits the Pittman-Robertson revenue into a special account called the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund, which is administered by the USFWS. These funds are made available to states and territories the year following their collection.

These excise tax dollars collected since 1937 under the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act are designated to be used by state wildlife agencies for conservation.

Collectively, purchasers of firearms and ammunition, hunters and the industry are the greatest sources of wildlife conservation funding.

If you are interested in wildlife conservation and how the model works, take some time to dive deeper into the subject. I’m betting you may just find some surprising facts on how things actually work.

Contact Nick Scala at 304-348-7947 or Follow him on Twitter @nick_scala319.

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