Pennsylvania: Apprentice Hunting Bill Advances

On April 26, the Pennsylvania House Committee on Game and Fisheries unanimously voted to pass House Bill 485. The bill, sponsored by Pennsylvania Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus member Representative Neil Goodman, would expand Pennsylvania’s mentored hunting program to include hunters that are 12-16 years old.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, Ruffed Grouse Society, and Safari Club International submitted a joint letter of support respectfully urging members of the Committee to vote in favor of HB 485.

Currently, only youth 17 years and older may participate in the mentored hunting program administered by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. This effort, known nationally as Families Afield, seeks to expand hunting opportunities to ensure the next generation joins the ranks of America’s hunters. Recruiting new hunters is essential to maintaining our sportsmen’s heritage and to expanding the sportsmen’s community in the future.

Robb Miller, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Vice Chair Governor Tom Wolf’s Advisor for Hunting, Fishing and Conservation remarked, “Not only will this legislation make it much easier for parents and young people to be exposed to hunting, it’s also a great example of how policymaking around hunting and fishing issues can bridge the political divide. Next, we’ll turn our attention to having House Bill 485 voted before the full House and sent to the Senate for consideration.”

More than 1.7 million people have participated in apprentice hunting programs across the United States, and apprentice hunters have been proven to be more than five times safer than the general hunting population. By expanding the range of eligibility in apprentice hunting programs through innovative approaches like HB 485, as well as through other hunter recruitment and retention efforts, states can ensure a sustainable funding stream for conservation through the American System of Conservation Funding. Under this unique “user-pays, public-benefits” system, revenues from hunting and fishing license sales and excise taxes collected on the sale of firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing tackle, and motorboat fuel fund state fish and wildlife management efforts.

For more information on this issue, see CSF’s issue brief, Apprentice Hunting Licenses.

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