Gun Owners Care About Conservation


White-tail deer with NSSM logo

Hunters, target shooters and gun owners are the No. 1 contributors to wildlife conservation in America. Together, they make possible contributions of nearly $9.4 million every day—adding up to more than $3.4 billion every year—to support states’ wildlife agencies and conservation. For more than 80 years, more than $20 billion has funded on-the-ground projects in every state, protecting threatened habitat and wildlife.

Here are some ways gun owners support conservation in America:

Excise Taxes

These taxes on sporting equipment (such as firearms and ammunition) provide nearly one-third of the revenue for state fish and wildlife agencies. The funds are used to acquire, maintain and improve wildlife habitat and to make the nation’s lands and waters more accessible and enjoyable to all its citizens, sportsmen and non-sportsmen alike.

License Revenues

License sales (such as hunting licenses) fund nearly half the budget, on average, for state fish and wildlife agencies. The money supports wildlife management and restoration programs, habitat improvement and general conservation efforts.

Other Revenue Sources

Other sources of revenue include special taxes and receipts from the sale of Duck & Wildlife stamps, and dues and contributions from sportsmen to conservation groups. Duck stamp proceeds are used by the government to buy or lease wetland habitat for ducks, geese and hundreds of nongame birds and animals. This money is derived through the states’ overall budgets, supported by taxes paid by everyone (including sportsmen). A 25 percent match from state funds is necessary to utilize excise tax dollars.

Conservation Results

Whitetail deer

Whitetail Deer

In 1900, less than half a million white-tailed deer remained in the nation. Today, conservation programs have returned the whitetail population to some 32 million.

THEN: 500,000

NOW: 32,000,000

Source: Quality Deer Management Association, 2013

wood ducks on a tree branch in a lake


In 1901, few ducks remained. Today, there are more than 46 million ducks populating the United States and Canada.


NOW: 46,000,000

Source: USFWS, 2013

Elk standing in water

Rocky Mountain Elk

In 1907, only about 41,000 elk could be counted in the United States. Today, populations in 23 states total approximately 1 million.

THEN: 41,000

NOW: 1,000,000

Source: National Park Service, 2013

2 turkeys

Wild Turkeys

By the early 1900s, civilization and habitat loss may have reduced the wild turkey population to under 100,000. Today, programs have restored the population to more than 7 million birds.

THEN: 100,000

NOW: 7,000,000

Source: National Wild Turkey Federation, 2013


Pronghorn Antelope

About 50 years ago, the total U.S. population of pronghorn was only about 12,000. Today, conservation programs have helped increase the population to more than one million.

THEN: 12,000

NOW: 1,100,000

Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife, 2011

Article courtesy of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Learn more at