By Niall G. Clancy, Hamilton
In 1937, recognizing the importance of state wildlife management agencies, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Pittman-Robertson Act. This act supplies up to 75% of state wildlife agencies’ total budget, using funds generated by taxes on hunting equipment. A similar act was passed in 1950 that provides funds for fisheries management generated by taxes on fishing gear.
Hunter and angler groups around the nation are very supportive of these acts. While the better-known Endangered Species Act has been instrumental in providing a way to recover at-risk species, the Pittman-Robertson Act provides the funds necessary to keep a multitude of other species from being listed as threatened or endangered in the first place. Provided enough funds to adequately monitor game species such as deer, elk, or black bears, agencies such as Montana FWP can set appropriate harvest quotas so that game populations keep producing enough animals for a yearly hunt.
However, a quick glance at the species that are now being listed as endangered reveals that non-game species (songbirds, frogs, bats, clams, etc.) are being added at an alarming rate. There is a reason for this. Unlike harvestable species, non-game animals do not have a consistent source of funding.
That is why the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) is so critically important. RAWA would take pre-existing funds generated from leases on federal lands and send them to the states for management of non-game species. These funds are badly needed to prevent more species from becoming endangered.
Currently, the bill is in the hands of the House Natural Resources Committee. Montana’s lone representative, Greg Gianforte, sits on this committee. Please join me in writing or calling Rep. Gianforte in support of this important bill.