Yesterday, Senate Bill 226, introduced by state Senator Sonnenberg (R-1), unanimously passed out of the House Agriculture, Livestock & Natural Resources Committee.
As previously reported, SB 226 would give hunters who are at least 10 years of age the ability to go into the field to hunt, as long as they are accompanied by someone at least 18 years of age or older who has successfully completed hunter education training. This bill would also remove the mandated 10 hour training requirement for obtaining a hunter education license but would still keep training in place by a division certified instructor.
Lengthy hunter education requirements often discourage potential hunters from going afield because they are unwilling to dedicate the necessary time to complete the course in order to pursue an activity that they are simply trying out. The apprentice license program would allow them to experience hunting while under the supervision of a mentor. Eventually, the goal is for these apprentices to complete a hunter education course so they can hunt on their own, which has largely been the case in the states with similar programs. Since 2006, 35 states have sold more than 1.4 million apprentice hunting licenses and have proven the value and safety of mentoring newcomers in the field. These hunters have proven to be safer than all other classes of hunters in what is already one of the safest recreational activities in America.
SB 226 is expected to be voted upon by the House this week. Please begin contacting your state Representative and politely urging him or her to SUPPORT Senate Bill 226 and cast a YES vote when it comes before them.