Follow the Money; Part II

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“Many laws were broken. The science had been bastardized, and a small group of people became filthy rich in the process.” Scott B. Rockholm
The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, commonly known as the Pittman-Robertson Act, was approved by Congress and signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt on September 2, 1937, and became effective July 1, 1938.

The Pittman–Robertson Act took over a pre-existing 11% excise tax on firearms and ammunition. The money used to go to the US Treasury, but now the money is kept separate and is given to the Secretary of the Interior to distribute to the States. The Secretary determines how much to give to each state based on a formula that takes into account both the area of the state and its number of licensed hunters.

The idea behind this act is that by creating more and better hunting experiences for people through habitat management and hunter education, more taxable items will be purchased, which would then provide more funding for management and improvement. The habitat improvement may also stimulate the eco-tourism sector of the economy by creating jobs in areas where people tend to visit for hunting or aesthetic reasons.

In the 1970s, amendments created a 10% tax on handguns and their ammunition and accessories as well as an 11% tax on archery equipment. It was also mandated that half of the money from each of those new taxes must be used to educate and train hunters through the creation and maintenance of hunter safety classes and shooting/target ranges.

States must fulfill certain requirements to use the money apportioned to them. None of the money from their hunting license sales may be used by anyone other than the State’s fish and game department. Plans for what to do with the money must be submitted to and approved by the Secretary of the Interior. Acceptable options include research, surveys, management of wildlife and/or habitat and acquisition or lease of land, among other things. Once a plan has been approved, the state must pay the full cost and is later reimbursed for up to 75% of that cost through P–R funds.

It is estimated that hunters spend around ten billion dollars a year on everything they need for their hunting trips. Another source estimated that hunters contribute about three and a half million dollars a day to conservation by purchasing taxable items and hunting licenses.

Congress had already turned down funding for the wolf project so it appears that USFWS took it upon themselves to dip deeply into Pittman-Robertson funds to finance this project… without filing the proper forms, without waiting for approval, without any authorization whatsoever…

The Players:

Secretary of the Interior; Bruce Babbitt
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife: Chief; Jamie Rappaport Clark.
The Wolf Project Leader; Ed Bangs
Fifteen prominent wolf biologists and scientists
and more….

…to be continued…