Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

MI: ‘Heritage’ bills off to governor

Lansing – A pair of bills passed by the state Legislature
earlier this month would eliminate the minimum age for hunting in
Michigan and mandate that the state Natural Resources Commission
establish a mentored youth hunting program for individuals 10 years
of age and younger.

Known as the Hunter Heritage bills, the package – Senate Bill 207,
sponsored by Sen. Joe Hune, R-Hamburg Township, and House Bill
4371, sponsored by Rep. Peter Pettalia, R-Presque Isle – has been
sent to Gov. Rick Snyder for his approval and signature.

“The bills have passed both chambers and are on the governor’s
desk. We have no reason to think he wouldn’t sign them,” MUCC
Legislative Affairs Manager Kent Wood told Michigan Outdoor News.
“Once signed, the NRC has one year to establish the program.”

Wood said several other states have similar youth mentor programs,
including Pennsylvania. Michigan’s bills were crafted after those
approved in that state.

MUCC and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance both pushed for passage of
the Hunter Heritage bills.

“We sincerely thank Sen. Hune and Rep. Pettalia for recognizing the
need for Michigan to take this major step forward for youth hunting
recruitment and participation in Michigan,” Jeremy Rine, U.S.
Sportsmen’s Alliance associate director of state services, said in
a release. “If signed by the governor, the legislation will allow
parents to decide when their children are old enough to hunt under
the guidance of an experienced adult mentor.”

HB 4371 establishes that only a minor who is less than 10 years old
may obtain a mentored youth hunting license. The fee for a mentored
youth hunting license will be $7.50 and includes a resident
small-game hunting license, a combination deer hunting license, an
all-species fishing license, a spring turkey hunting license, a
fall turkey hunting license, and a resident fur harvester’s
license.

Some hunters voiced concern about offering the license package,
worried about abuse by adult mentors.

“As to the concern about abuses, this is a forward-looking piece of
legislation for the purposes of getting more kids outdoors and
safely involved with our hunting and fishing heritage,” Wood said.
“We are aware of the fact that there will always be abusers to any
system; however, we are confident that there is enough support for
youth hunting that the vast majority of users will do so for the
right purposes, and not just to get a leg up on spring
turkey.

“While it will ultimately be up to the NRC, we are confident that
they will produce and implement a mentored youth hunt program that
is viable and effective.”

SB 207 eliminates the minimum hunting age; requires the Natural
Resources Commission to establish a mentored youth hunting program;
establishes a mentored youth hunting license for a person younger
than 10, allows a licensee to hunt with a mentor who is at least 21
in accordance with the program; and requires the DNR to report to
the Legislature every four years regarding the adequacy of the
revenue from mentored youth hunting licenses.

SB 207 also will eliminate a provision stating that a combination
deer license issued to a person younger than 12 is valid only for
taking deer with a bow and arrow, until the person is at least 12
years old. In addition, the fee for a resident fur harvester’s
license for a resident or nonresident who is 12 to 16 years old
will be reduced to $7.50.

“This legislation aims to increase youth involvement in hunting by
allowing young hunters to safely experience outdoor hunting
traditions under the supervision of an experienced mentor,” Sen.
Hune said in a release. “The new Mentored Youth Hunting Program
will allow Michigan youngsters to experience our state’s great
hunting heritage while learning safe hunting practices from an
adult mentor.”

According to MUCC, Michigan has the lowest hunter recruitment rate
in the nation. The state lost 166,475 hunters between 1998 and
2008, a 17-percent reduction. The Hunter Heritage package is
designed to reverse that trend.

MUCC says that for every 100 adult hunters who quit hunting in
Michigan, only 26 youth hunters take their place. In Pennsylvania
the recruitment rate is 62 percent since that state adopted similar
legislation in 2006.

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