Wildlife programs in Georgia and most other states will benefit from a spike in federal excise tax revenues from the sale of guns, ammunition, fishing gear and other items.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, more than $882.4 million in excise tax was generated in fiscal 2012 for distribution this year to state natural resource agencies.
The sum, of which Georgia’s share will be more than $18.5 million, is 22 percent higher than fiscal 2011 collections and 7 percent above the previous record for such revenues set in 2010.
The funds are made available to all 50 states through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration programs, which are funded from excise taxes on sporting firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing equipment and tackle and electric outboard motors. Boaters also contribute to the program through fuel taxes.
Even after the effects of sequestration, which reduced those allocations by about 5.1 percent this year, Georgia will still benefit from a substantial increase over last year, said Georgia Wildlife Resources Division spokeswoman Melissa Cummings.
Georgia’s Pittman-Robertson funds, she said, are typically used for operation and maintenance of approximately 1 million acres in the Wildlife Management Area program, hunter education programs, technical wildlife management assistance to landowners and the public, land acquisition, research and a range safety officer program.
The state’s Dingell-Johnson funds are used for managing sport fish populations, raising freshwater fish in hatcheries and stocking them in public waters, maintaining and operating public fishing areas and building fishing piers, she said.
Individual state shares of the excise tax revenues are based on land area and the number of hunting licenses sold for Pittman-Robertson funds; and for land mass, acreage of water and fishing license sales for Dingell-Johnson revenues.
The programs have generated more than $15.3 billion since their inception – in 1937 in the case of the Pittman-Robertson, and 1950 for the Dingell-Johnson Program. Recipient fish and wildlife agencies have matched those funds with more than $5.1 billion.