The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (WRA), commonly known as the Pittman-Robertson Act, provides federal aid to states for management and restoration of wildlife. This funding is annually derived from an 11 percent excise tax on the sale of sporting arms and ammunition, a 10 percent excise tax on pistols and revolvers and 11 percent on archery equipment.
These funds are appropriated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and apportioned to states through a formula based on the state’s land area and number of licensed hunters. Fortunately for Delaware, a smaller state with a population not nearly as large as other east coast states, there is a minimum apportionment of 0.5 percent, which Delaware receives. This funding is then provided to the states at a 3:1 cost ratio (for every $3 of federal funding the state must match $1 of state funding). The WRA also requires that participating states have laws in effect restricting the use of revenue from hunting license fees for use only by the state fish and wildlife agency. This act later became the model for the Sport Fish Restoration Act.
Project activities utilizing this funding include acquisition and of wildlife habitat, introduction of wildlife into suitable habitat, research into wildlife problems, surveys and inventories of wildlife problems, acquisition and development of access facilities for public use, and hunter education programs, including construction and operation of public target ranges. In Delaware, WRA funding is spent on three main focus areas: land acquisition and habitat management, hunter education, and wildlife research.
Because this funding is derived from the sale of sporting equipment and matched with hunting license dollars, projects tend to be geared towards game species (those hunted or trapped); however, non-game species derive numerous benefits from the associated acquisition, habitat and research work conducted by WRA. Most non-game and endangered species derive their funding from other sources, many of which game species are ineligible for.
Currently, research funded under WRA focuses on four wildlife investigation research topics: white-tailed deer, waterfowl, turkeys and wildlife surveys. Listed below are the most recent (2009) annual reports on these topics.
Within each report is an explanation of the objectives, activities conducted during the grant year to meet those objectives and a summary of the results collected to date.