Leaders mark 75th anniversary of wildlife restoration law

September 4, 2012

By Staff

NEW — 6 a.m. Sept. 4, 2012

State leaders recently celebrated a federal law passed 75 years ago to help Washington and other states manage wildlife, purchase habitat and educate hunters.

Gov. Chris Gregoire and state Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Phil Anderson said the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937, provided Washington with millions of dollars to support wildlife conservation and hunter education initiatives.

Sept. 2 marked 75 years since Roosevelt signed the legislation into law.

The law is better known as the Pittman-Robertson Act after the prime sponsors, U.S. Sen. Key Pittman, D-Nev., and U.S. Rep. A. Willis Robertson, D-Va.

Congress and the president enacted the measure at the urging of organized outdoor groups, state wildlife agencies, and the firearms and ammunition industries. The legislation extended the existing 11-percent excise tax on sport hunting ammunition and firearms and earmarked the proceeds for state investments in wildlife conservation.

In recent years Washington received about $7 million annually in Pittman-Robertson funds in the form of grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“The Pittman-Robertson Act is one of the most significant wildlife conservation measures in U.S. history,” Gregoire said in a statement. “I commend the role of hunters and recreational shooting enthusiasts in contributing to the sound management of wildlife and critical habitat in Washington and across the West.”

Anderson said the state uses Pittman-Robertson funds to sustainably manage almost 50 game species and educate about 13,000 hunters each year. The state’s initial land purchase, in 1939, enabled officials to establish the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area in North Central Washington. In all, Washington has used Pittman-Robertson grants to buy more than 150,000 acres of land for wildlife conservation.

“These lands provide year-round access for outdoor enthusiasts, economic benefits for local communities, and critical habitat for deer, elk, waterfowl, upland birds, fish and nongame species,” Anderson said.

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