Bills to Ease Hunting Age Limits Make Headway- (02/02)
Utah
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North Dakota and Utah this week saw advancement of bills to get youth and other newcomers to hunting into the field sooner.



The bills are part of the national Families Afield campaign, established by the U.S. Sportsmenís Alliance, National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), and National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF). The campaign urges states to eliminate unnecessary hunting age restrictions and ease hunter education mandates for first-time hunters. The National Rifle Association is also working in support of the effort.



On Jan. 26, the North Dakota House of Representatives passed HB 1149, 80-9. The bill will lower the age for deer hunters from 14 to 12 year old. It is sponsored by Rep. Donald Dietrich, R-Grand Forks; Rep. Ron Carlisle, R-Bismarck; Rep. Dawn Marie Charging, R-Garrison; Rep. Darrell Nottestad, R-Grand Forks; Rep. Dan Ruby, R-Minot; and Sen. Stanley Lyson, R-Williston. The bill now goes to the state Senate.



A Utah Families Afield bill passed the Senate on February 1, 24-4, and will return to the House for concurrence on Senate changes. House Bill 67, introduced by Curtis Oda, R-Clearfield, lowers the age to hunt big game from 14 to 12. The children must hunt under the supervision of an adult.



To date, Families Afield legislation and regulations have been approved in 12 states. Michigan and Ohio Families Afield campaigns established apprentice hunting licenses. First-year results show real promise: More than 18,000 apprentice licenses were sold in Michigan, plus nearly 10,000 in Ohio, during 2006. These 28,000 new hunters suggest a 26 percent jump in the two states' combined population of hunters age 15 and under.


Families Afield was developed after results of a study, called the Youth Hunting Report, showed that youngsters are less likely to take up hunting in states that have more restrictive requirements for youth participation. However, states that have removed barriers to youth hunting have a much higher youth recruitment rate.



Studies have also shown that supervised youth are the safest class of hunters.



The U.S. Sportsmenís Alliance is a national association of sportsmen and sportsmenís organizations. It protects the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers in the courts, legislatures, at the ballot, in Congress and through public education programs. For more information about the U.S. Sportsmenís Alliance and its work, call (614) 888-4868 or visit its website, www.ussportsmen.org.