Newsroom Midwest Region

April 8, 2014
Contacts: Joanna Gilkeson, 612-713-5170 & Jim Hodgson, 612-713-5131

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces $22 Million to Illinois from Excise Taxes on Anglers, Hunters and Boaters

Recreational Users Provide Record Support for Critical Conservation Projects

White-tailed deer courtesy of Jim Osborn.
White-tailed deer courtesy of Jim Osborn.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will distribute nearly $1.1 billion in excise tax revenues paid by sportsmen and sportswomen to state and territorial fish and wildlife agencies to fund fish and wildlife conservation and recreation projects across the nation. The Service’s Midwest Region received over $210 million dollars from the excise tax revenues. This funding will be distributed among the Midwest Region’s 8 states including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin by the Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program.

“For over 75 years, hunters, shooters, anglers and boaters have supported the conservation of fish and wildlife resources and the Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration Program,” said Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius. “Their support has left a lasting legacy in the Midwest – restoring fish and wildlife populations, improving access for recreational boaters and boosting conservation related education programs helping people to connect with hunting, shooting, fishing, and boating.”

Illinois has been a recipient of user-generated funding from the Service for decades. This year, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will receive over $22 million dollars in Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration dollars. All of this funding has been invested in restoring and conserving Illinois’ fish and wildlife natural resources.  Over the past few years, funding has supported important restoration projects including research on white tailed deer and chronic wasting disease, and on flathead catfish, all of which are directly related to outdoor recreation opportunities in Illinois. The 2014 Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration funds will support these ongoing projects and new restoration projects. Listed below are examples of conservation projects currently funded through these dollars. 

Illinois Deer Investigations
White-tailed deer are one of the most popular and valuable wildlife resources in Illinois, so managing this species is a top concern to the IDNR.  Persistent diseases like chronic wasting disease and bovine tuberculosis present difficult issues for deer population managers. CWD has been detected in the Illinois deer population since 2002, and the IDNR has been actively managing the spread and prevalence of it by sharpshooting “hot spots” and by increasing hunter harvest in positive counties. This research will inform management of deer in Illinois and is in part funded through Wildlife Restoration dollars.  

Flathead Catfish Habitat Assessment
The IDNR and the Eastern Illinois University are partnering to study the flathead catfish, one of the most desirable fish in the Wabash River in southeast Illinois. The flathead catfish is sought after by both sport and commercial fisherman in the area making them an important species both recreationally and economically. Research at Eastern Illinois University is focusing on understanding the sustainability of catfish in the Wabash River by studying their movements, behavior, and their preferred environment. Researchers want to identify critical habitat for the catfish. The fish are tagged and placed back in the river where they are monitored year round to help researchers understand how these fish may be better managed. Much of the funding for this project comes from the Sport Fish Restoration Act.

The Service apportions the funds to all 50 states and territories through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration programs. 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. The total distributions this year are $238.4 million higher than last year because of the inclusion of funds that were not distributed last year due to the government sequester and an increase in excise tax receipts from sales of firearms and ammunition in the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund.

The Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program apportionment for 2014 totals a record $760.9 million, which includes $20 million that was sequestered from FY 2013 but subsequently returned to the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund. The Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Program apportionment for 2014 totals $325.7 million, which includes $18.5 million that was sequestered from FY 2013 but subsequently returned to the Sport Fish Restoration Trust Fund. The FY 2014 Sport Fish Restoration apportionment is $34.1 million lower than FY 2013 due to lower domestic fishing equipment excise tax receipts.

The Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program reimburses up to 75 percent of the cost of each eligible project, while state fish and wildlife agencies contribute a minimum of 25 percent, generally using hunting and fishing license revenues as the required non-federal match. For information on funding for each state, click here. To learn more about the projects funded in the Service’s Midwest Region, click here.

To learn more about the Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, please visit our website at

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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