Elk NetworkLatest Excise Tax Numbers Don't Bode Well for Conservation

Conservation | February 16, 2018

Excise taxes accumulated from the sale of hunting, shooting sports and fishing gear provide the bulk of funding for nationwide conservation efforts. However, newly released figures show fewer Americans are purchasing firearms and archery equipment which is bad news for conservation, wildlife and our wild landscapes.

Data provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and published by the Wildlife Management Institute shows a 33 percent drop in the amount of firearms and archery equipment sold over the first quarter of fiscal year 2018 (October 1 through December 31, 2017) compared to a year ago. If you do that math, that’s a shortfall of $79.4 million in excise taxes. Specifically, pistols and revolvers are down 33 percent, firearms are down 35 percent and shells and cartridges are down 37 percent. Archery equipment is down 13 percent but arrow shafts are up 20 percent.

Fortunately, the accumulated amount of excise taxes on fishing gear, motorboat fuel and small engines is up five percent overall although those sums historically trail the amount generated by firearms.

What does all this mean? The immediate future is not as bright for state wildlife agencies which depend on hunter- and angler-generated dollars to manage fish and wildlife. It also means if hunter and angler numbers continue to shrink, the amount of funds funneled toward wildlife management will decrease which will have a detrimental impact on the North American Wildlife Conservation Model, a series of principles that guide the most successful wildlife management program in the world.

(Photo source: Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks)

(Image source: Wildlife Management Institute)