COVID-19 has had and will continue to have wide-ranging impacts on business, health and our society as a whole. It also has a measurable impact on the ability to carry out nationwide conservation work.
Excise taxes administered through the Dingell-Johnson (D-J) Act, on fishing equipment, and the Pittman-Robertson (P-R) Act, on guns, ammunition and archery equipment, generate significant funding specifically for land and wildlife conservation projects.
Statistics provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service show D-J funding is down from $285.3 million to $277.8 million, or roughly three percent, through the first two quarters of 2020 compared to 2019. According to the Wildlife Management Institute, the biggest contributor to the decline appears to be a decrease in boating gas fuel taxes because of a reduction in travel.
On the flip side, P-R funds are up from $308.8 million to $324.9 million, or approximately five percent. While the sale of firearms remained about the same, more Americans purchased pistols and ammunition. Even then there is a downside. The sale of archery equipment is down nine percent. The Wildlife Management Institute attributes the reduction not so much to COVID-19 but to Internet businesses skirting the payment of excise taxes altogether.
The P-R and D-J programs provide approximately 60 percent of the budget for state fish and wildlife agencies which are tasked with management wildlife and carrying out other conservation work.
(Photo source: North Dakota Game and Fish Department)