Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Division of Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) provides significant funding to state fish and wildlife agencies for restoring the New England cottontail and helping other young forest wildlife. Funds come from two different sources: Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration and State Wildlife Grants.
When people buy firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing tackle, and motorboat fuel, an excise tax is collected by the federal government. Wildlife Restoration funds are returned to state fish and wildlife agencies to create more and better outdoor experiences for citizens through making and managing wildlife habitat, hunter and angler education programs, scientific research, and buying or leasing lands for fish and wildlife habitat and public access for hunting and fishing.
Over decades, this unique user-pay funding mechanism has made our country a better place for fish and wildlife, for people who hunt and fish, and for those who enjoy venturing into nature and watching creatures from warblers to bears. Wildlife Restoration funds (derived from equipment excise taxes) have helped bring back healthy populations of white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, wood ducks, black bears, and beavers, to name but a few well-known species. In fact, all wildlife that share the land with these creatures have benefited from habitat improvements funded by American sportsmen and women.
In the case of the New England cottontail, Wildlife Restoration and State Wildlife Grant (SWG) funds are used by state fish and wildlife agencies to create and manage habitat, conduct genetics analyses, carry out population and range sampling, develop databases, provide technical assistance to private landowners, improve communications and outreach, administer the New England Cottontail Conservation Strategy, and monitor the results of conservation actions - all critical to the recovery of the species.
As with other wildlife success stories from the past, bringing back the New England cottontail will also help the scores of other wild animals – both game species and creatures that are not hunted – that share the cottontail’s young forest and shrubland habitat. Some of those animals include box and wood turtles, numerous songbirds, and insect pollinators.
Other Important Sources of Funds
Other important funding for cottontail restoration comes from the individual states where New England cottontails are found; the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Wildlife and Tribal Wildlife Grants programs; and the U.S. Geological Survey.