The run on firearms last year is turning into a windfall for conservation programs in the Northwest.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revealed Wednesday $760 million is coming to states from a long-standing tax on gun sales -- the most that's gone to states since the fund was created in 1937.
The Pittman-Robertson Act sets an excise tax on rifles, pistols, bullets, and archery equipment. The idea is to have hunters help pay for maintaining healthy wildlife populations.
The NRA even lobbied for the tax.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's Madonna Luers says as state budgets have shrunk, Pittman-Robertson dollars have become a critical source of funding for a range of wildlife programs, research survey work, reintroduction of extirpated game species, and to purchase wildlife areas and areas that provide habitat for deer, elk, waterfowl, upland game birds.
This year, Washington can expect $14 million; Oregon $17 million; and Idaho $15 million. The formula is based in part on how many hunters there are in the state.
A similar tax on fishing tackle will provide each state with around $20 million for fish restoration.