For 85 years, hunters have played a central role in wildlife conservation funding through the Pittman-Robertson Act. During this time we have seen enormous success in restoring species including waterfowl, turkey, white-tailed deer and elk. Hunters, who willingly step up to conserve wildlife, remain proud of our contribution to conservation through the excise taxes on firearms, ammunition and archery equipment, to the tune of $1.1 billion in 2021.
The RETURN Act (H.R. 8167), legislation introduced by Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) and cosponsored by more than 50 other members of Congress, would eliminate these excise taxes and the role of hunters in funding the Pittman-Robertson Act. By eliminating the historical funding source for wildlife conservation, this legislation would have devastating consequences for our fish and wildlife agencies, our fish and wildlife populations, and our hunting and angling opportunities.
Hunters were not consulted in the drafting of this legislation, which shows a serious misstep. We are additionally concerned that more than 50 members of Congress signed onto this messaging bill without properly recognizing the consequences it would have for wildlife conservation.
BHA opposes this bill, and the response from hunters to this reckless legislation underscores our passion for our role in the conservation of our wildlife and wild places. The RETURN Act would diminish the stake that hunters have had in wildlife conservation for nearly a century.