Fueled by the soaring sales of firearms and ammunition, many states reported receiving significantly more funds this year than in the recent past.
The firearms and ammunition industry is once again returning to normal after a busy and chaotic 2013. Manufacturers found themselves pressed by sky-high demand as customers stocked up on guns and ammo, causing visible shortages in items such as AR-15-style rifles and .22 LR ammo. According to statistics from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), background checks in 2013 rose to a record 14.8 million as compared to 5.64 million in 2011.
While last year may have been immensely profitable for the industry, it was also a shot in the arm for critical conservation projects across the country. That came in form of an apportionment of $760.9 million from the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program, which distributes funds to state wildlife agencies collected from gun and ammo excise taxes. This year’s payout is the highest in the program’s history. Combined with excise taxes on boats and fishing equipment, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) distributed nearly $1.1 billion earlier this year.
“Anyone who enjoys our nation’s outdoor heritage should thank hunters, anglers, recreational boaters and target shooters,” said USFWS director Dan Ashe in a press release. “Through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, these individuals have created a 75-year legacy for conservation of critical wildlife habitat and improved access to the outdoors for everyone.”