Back in June I explained how states get federal funding for hunting and fishing programs through the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts. Federal excise taxes imposed on hunting and fishing gear are returned to states based on each state's land area and the number of hunting and fishing licenses sold.
P-R and D-J tax dollars supplement the fees each state collects for hunting and fishing licenses. But these are just two of many federal laws and policies that benefit wildlife.
A complete review of federal conservation laws is beyond the scope of this column, but I want to mention a few pieces of federal legislation that have been critical to the success of wildlife conservation.
Federal wildlife law began with the Lacey Act in 1900. It curbed market hunting by outlawing the interstate transportation of illegally killed game species. This put the power of the federal government behind the enforcement of state game laws.
The National Park Service Act (1916) established the National Park System. Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Glacier, Acadia, the Everglades, and hundreds more owe their existence to the wisdom of pioneer conservationists who saw the need to protect magnificent wild places for future generations.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (1918) established formal cooperation between the U.S. and Canada. It prohibited hunting of insectivorous migratory birds (most song birds) and regulated the hunting of migratory game birds (waterfowl, for example).
The Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act (1934) created a funding mechanism to acquire and maintain national wildlife refuges. The funds came from the sale of federal migratory bird hunting stamps -- duck stamps. Though only waterfowl hunters were required to buy these stamps, refuges provide critical habitat for all sorts of wildlife.
The Bald Eagle Protection Act (1940) outlawed killing bald eagles and made it illegal to possess body parts, eggs and nests. In 1962 the act was amended to extend similar protection to golden eagles.
The Multiple Use-Sustained Yield Act (1960) declared the policy of Congress to be "that national forests are established and shall be administered for outdoor recreation, range, timber, watershed, and wildlife and fish purposes." Further it specified that no specific use could predominate among the others. Theoretically this put fish and wildlife conservation on an equal footing with timber production on national forests.