Contact: Kent Keene, Assistant Manager, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy
Why It Matters: While growing in popularity among sportsmen and women thanks to their ease of use, quiet nature, and effectiveness in the field, airbows currently do not contribute to the American System of Conservation Funding on a national scale since they are subject to the Pittman-Robertson excise tax. Fortunately, some states, now including Oklahoma, have initiated state stamps or permits that allow airbow hunters to contribute to conservation efforts while in pursuit of game with their airbows. This ingenuity allows hunters to take advantage of novel technologies while proudly maintaining our status as the original conservationists.
On May 11, Oklahoma Senate Bill 1571 (SB 1571), which allows for the use of airbows during Oklahoma’s firearm deer seasons and following the purchase of an airbow conservation stamp, was formally signed into law by Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Kevin Stitt after making its way through the legislature with broad support. Championed by Oklahoma Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair and National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC) Executive Council Member Senator Mark Allen, SB 1571 was a priority for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) in Oklahoma this year. With its passage, which included an emergency clause, the provisions of SB 1571 take effect immediately.
Airbows and airguns each represent novel opportunities for sportsmen and women while presenting a unique challenge as they relate to conservation funding. Presently, airguns and airbows are not included in the Pittman-Robertson excise taxes that represent a key component of the “user pays — public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF). Because of this, SB 1571 allows Oklahoma to join other states that have solved this issue by developing a stamp – in Oklahoma’s case a one-time $20 stamp – that must be purchased in order to hunt with an airbow in Oklahoma. This stamp allows airbow hunters to contribute to the conservation efforts of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation directly, though this stamp requirement will expire when and if airbows are ever included in the Pittman-Robertson excise tax.
As novel technologies continue to be developed, the opportunities that they present to sportsmen and women, as well as their effectiveness as a potential recruitment, retention, or reactivation tool, should be thoroughly evaluated. Likewise, it is important that sportsmen and women, the original conservationists, safeguard the ASCF to ensure that state agencies can continue to provide the opportunities on which all sportsmen and women rely. Oklahoma SB 1571 accomplished both of these objectives, and, for these reasons, CSF celebrates its passage.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?