Midwest Region


How Does Your State Use the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program for Conservation?

March 7, 2016

Bobcat research in Wisconsin is helping guide management decisions. Photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR.
Bobcat research in Wisconsin is helping guide management decisions. Photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR.

All eight states in the Midwest receive federal funds annually to support state-specific conservation needs through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. This year, more than $201 million dollars will be allocated to the Service’s Midwest Region. Previous conservation efforts including bobcat research, fish stocking, hunter education, osprey recovery and others have been achieved with the help of this funding.

More than $1.1 billion will be distributed to states and territories across the nation to fund fish and wildlife conservation and recreation projects. The funding for the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration grants comes from a user-pay, user-benefit system. Revenues come from excise taxes generated by the sale of sporting firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing equipment and tackle, and electric outboard motors. Recreational boaters also contribute to the program through fuel taxes on motorboats and small engines.

“Everyone benefits from this program whether or not they hunt, fish or boat,” said Service Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius. “In many cases the parks where we watch birds, the public trails we hike on and the wildlife we observe would not exist without the funding provided by hunters, shooters, anglers and boaters. The Service's Midwest Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program is leaving a lasting legacy for our nation's outdoor heritage.”

This legendary state-federal partnership started in 1937 and generated more than $18 billion to conserve fish and wildlife resources. The recipient fish and wildlife agencies have matched these program funds with more than $5 billion over the years, primarily through hunting and fishing license revenues.

These dollars are critical in sustaining healthy fish and wildlife populations and providing access for people to connect with nature. The introduction of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration excise tax has truly made for one of the most successful and unrivaled conservation stories in history!

Learn more about the great conservation work happening in your state:


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

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Last updated: June 15, 2016