U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration Program

Wildlife Restoration Program - History

The Wildlife Restoration Program was authorized by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (WR), commonly referred to as the Pittman-Robertson (PR) Act, passed in 1937.

The original Act provided for revenues from manufacturers’ excise tax on sporting arms and ammunitions. The funds were apportioned to the states and insular areas on a formula basis. The apportionments were then made available to the agencies with authority over fish and wildlife.

States and insular areas were required by the Act to have assent legislation which ensured revenue from license fees were used for the administration of the fish and wildlife agency.

The apportionment formula and assent legislation remain in the current WR Act. However, as Congress amends the WR Act and/or enacts other federal legislation, changes are made to the WR Program.

Throughout the years changes have been made to the items taxable, tax rates, eligible projects, authorizations, distribution to WR Program and other programs funded through the WR Act.

See the Wildlife Restoration Act Amendments for current distributions and a complete history on each amendment and how it impacted the Wildlife Restoration Program.

The program regulation, 50 CFR 80, was revised 8/25/2008 to clarify procedures governing the annual certification of the number of paid hunting and fishing licensees, provisions for records retention, to update administrative requirements, and to delete references to forms no longer approved by the OMB.