Nature Column: Ammo sales up tax revenues for wildlife conservation

A couple of weeks ago in this column, I wrote about the difficulty I had in finding 22 rifle ammo that we use in the local Arizona Hunter Education class.

A number of area sportsmen responded to my plea for assistance, and while a few offered to sell me ammo, even more stepped up and offered to help out the program by donating various amounts of 22 ammo.

Donations were received from Jerry Barrick, Joe Turner, Dave Butchko, Larry Gronsky and Norman Burns, plus several other donors who want to remain anonymous. One supporter even left a jar of assorted 22 ammo at the Mohave Sportsman Club's Seven Mile Hill Shooting Range office!

Due to these generous donations, our shooting portion of our hunter education program is good for at least two years.

These donations ensure our team will be able to continue to teach the kids about safe gun handling and marksmanship, and can do the required live fire exercises.

Thanks guys, your support of the Hunter Education program is greatly appreciated.

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On another front, The National Shooting Sports Foundation has reported that there has been at least one good thing that has resulted from the buying frenzy of the American public of ammo and firearms.

Americans who are afraid of the policies of the new administration and their obvious distrust of President Obama have and are continuing to purchase firearms and ammo at a record rate.

Manufacturers of firearms and ammunition pay a federal excise tax on all of their products. They pay 11-percent tax on firearms and a 10-percent tax on ammo.

Those excise taxes are and have been a major source of funding for wildlife conservation in America for many years.

In the fourth quarter of 2008 alone, sales tax on guns and ammo were up by more than 31 percent.

That translated into more than $98 million collected in just one quarter.

The breakdown of the funds collected included $27 million for pistols and revolvers, $35 million for long guns and $35.5 million for ammunition.

In 2008, a total of $345 million was collected in excise taxes. That money will be distributed to the states for conservation purposes, and that is indeed a good thing.

There is no indication that purchases of guns and ammo are slowing down in 2009, and this also translates into good news for wildlife and wildlife conservation.

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I can't end this column without commenting on the recent bear shooting incident.

I understand why a lot of people are questioning the decision of the Kingman Police Department to shoot that bear rather than wait for Game and Fish to arrive to tranquilize and relocate it.

However, understand that the KPD's first duty in situations like this is to protect the public. And they did what they should have.

Had they waited any longer, and that bear attacked a human or was involved in a traffic accident, then the hue and cry by the citizenry then would have been, "Why did they wait so long?"

That young bear was terrified, and unfortunately, made a bad decision on where it went. That cost him his life.

But KPD did the right thing using lethal force to end a real threat of a frightened bear running across streets and trying to get into people's businesses and/or homes.

And just to refresh your memory, this isn't the first time that KPD has had to shoot potentially dangerous wildlife that has wandered into town.

Remember when they had to shoot a young mountain lion that wandered into Ranch Santa Fe a number of years ago?

Sometimes, unfortunately, that kind of thing happens. Wildlife always loses in human versus wildlife conflicts.

KPD doesn't need tranquilizer guns in their patrol cars either. G&F has them, and if there is time, they'll be there to take over the job.