Federal Aid in Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program
Keeping our wildlife -- and our traditions -- healthy
Your purchase of fishing tackle, firearms, ammunition, archery equipment and motorboat fuels, along with license sales, helps fund sport fish and wildlife restoration in New Hampshire. This provides opportunities for hunting, fishing and other wildlife-associated recreation.
For more information on how anglers and hunters help sport fish and wildlife restoration, visit:
- Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program
- Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Program
- New Hampshire Hunter Education Program
- NH Aquatic Education Program/Let's Go Fishing
Not So Long Ago...
In the middle of the 19th century in New Hampshire, numbers of many wildlife species were dwindling or gone altogether because of unregulated hunting and loss of habitat. Conservation efforts of the time were few -- and frequently misguided or scientifically questionable -- but leadership was beginning to understand that investing in wildlife and habitat pays great dividends.
A Unique Solution
The Pittman-Robertson Act, or Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, was passed in 1938. It was designed to counteract the wildlife crisis by providing local funding for wildlife management research; the selection, restoration, rehabilitation and improvement of wildlife habitat; and public use and benefit related to same.
In 1950, the Dingell-Johnson Act or Sport Fish Restoration Act was created to provide similar management, conservation and restoration improvements for fisheries. Together, the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs (WSFR) have transformed the landscape and immeasurably improved the conditions and prospects for New Hampshire's wildlife. In short, both acts encourage a scientific approach toward managing -- and restoring -- fish and wildlife.
"Every time an American hunter buys a gun or ammunition he chips in to improve his sport," said the author of a 10-year report on federal wildlife restoration released in 1949. It's just as true today: WSFR programs are funded by revenues collected from the manufacturers of sporting arms, handguns, ammunition and archery equipment, fishing rods, reels, lures and other fishing gear. Motorboat and small engine fuel taxes also help fund the system. The money is paid back to New Hampshire Fish and Game -- and wildlife agencies in the other U.S. states and territories -- to be used on specific wildlife restoration projects. By continuing to purchase hunting, shooting, fishing and certain boating equipment, people who enjoy these activities contribute directly to their success.
An Example: The Comeback of the Wild Turkey
In the 1964-1966 biennial report of the Fish and Game Department, there is a chart called Hunting Success, which gives an idea of conditions for various species -- from "excellent" (snowshoe hare in north) to "fair" (pheasant) to, alas, "extinct" (passenger pigeon). The listing for "Turkey" reads, simply, "None." In New Hampshire, the wild turkey had gone the way of the passenger pigeon.
A Wildlife Restoration Program-funded project to restore the eastern wild turkey (meleagris gallopavo) to New Hampshire saw its first successes in the late 1970s, when 25 wild turkeys from the Alleghenies were reintroduced to the Connecticut River valley in Walpole. That number multiplied into several hundred in a few years. Careful monitoring and protection of the birds and a focus on habitat management helped the flock flourish, to the point where Fish and Game was able to reestablish a turkey hunt. Today, wild turkeys are an increasingly common sight throughout New Hampshire, with an estimated total population topping 22,000. The hunt has expanded, and so has the range of the bird -- even into the northernmost parts of the state, where they haven't thrived since before the Civil War.
In addition to wild turkeys, dozens of species have rebuilt their populations and expanded their ranges far beyond what they were a century ago -- white-tailed deer, wood duck, beaver and black bear, to name a few. Sport fish also benefit from the research and habitat improvements WSFR provides, not to mention an array of nongame animals including bald eagles and songbirds.
Meeting the Public's Wildlife Needs
With the support of WSFR -- now providing New Hampshire with more than $5 million for restoration programs each year -- salmon, wild turkeys and countless other creatures prosper as they haven't in centuries. Fish and Game's scientific research and management give species a solid chance to re-establish healthy populations, while at the same time improving habitats for all to enjoy. Along the way, WSFR helps Fish and Game meet the public's need for wildlife resources by improving boating access, providing aquatic education and outreach, maintaining quality hunter education programs and myriad related projects.
New Hampshire's hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers -- including tourists -- can thank WSFR's creators for starting a system that has protected our wildlife, our outdoors and our outdoor traditions through the years.