Wisconsin Governor Signs Bill to Bring New Hunters into Field
Columbus, Ohio – -(AmmoLand.com)- Today, Governor Jim Doyle signed legislation that will enhance opportunities for sportsmen to pass their hunting heritage to the next generation. With Gov. Doyle’s signature, Wisconsin becomes the 29th state to lower barriers preventing new hunters from entering the field.
Senate Bill 167, sponsored by Sen. Jim Holperin (D-Conover), creates a mentored hunting license, which will allow people 10 years of age and older to hunt with an experienced mentor prior to the completion of hunter education. The legislation is the culmination of five years of work for the Families Afield Program, founded by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) to eliminate barriers to hunting. The cornerstone of the program has been the apprentice hunting concept which is embodied in the new Wisconsin law.
“We thank Gov. Doyle for signing this critically needed piece of legislation,” said Bud Pidgeon, USSA president and CEO. “Laws like this one in other states have proven to be effective at recruiting new groups of hunters such as women and urban residents. And most importantly, the program has been shown to be safe.
“Since the beginning of Families Afield, over 283,000 new hunters have been introduced to the field with a safety rate that even exceeds that of regular hunters,” said George Thornton, CEO of the NWTF. “Wisconsin has been a priority for our volunteers and we could not be more pleased that will now be law.”
“Replacing our ranks as older sportsmen pass on and leave hunting is critical to conservation and hunting,” stated NSSF President Steve Sanetti. “This new law is a major tool for accomplishing that important task.”
The effort to pass an apprentice hunting bill received great support across Wisconsin from sportsmen’s groups such as the Hunters Rights Coalition, Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, Wisconsin State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Wisconsin chapters of Safari Club International, Wisconsin Waterfowl Association, and the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation. The National Rifle Association also supported Senate Bill 167.
Several members of the Wisconsin legislature deserve special recognition for championing this effort. This includes Representatives Ann Hraychuck (D-Balsam Lake) and Scott Gunderson (R- Waterford) as well as Senator Holperin and Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker (D- Schofield).
The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance is a national association of sportsmen and sportsmen’s organizations that 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. Sportsmen’s Alliance and its work, call (614) 888-4868 or visit its website, www.ussportsmen.org.