July 5, 2022

Caucus Co-Chair Senator Dodd Advancing Youth Hunting License Bill in California

Contact: Keely Hopkins, Manager, Pacific States & Firearm Policy

Why It Matters: California’s hunting and fishing license sales have been declining over the last several decades, which has resulted in decreased funding for conservation and wildlife management efforts throughout the state. Under the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), a unique “user pays- public benefits” structure, California’s sportsmen and women generate tens of millions of dollars each year for the California Department of Fish & Wildlife through license and tags sales. To combat these declining numbers, state wildlife agencies, conservation organizations, and hunting/fishing organizations have all invested heavily in R3 efforts and continue to identify strategies to increase participation in outdoor activities.

As identified in California’s Statewide R3 Implementation Strategy that focuses on Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation (R3) efforts, cost and limited opportunities are two significant barriers for youth participation in hunting and angling. SB 865, introduced by California Outdoor Sporting Caucus Co-Chair Senator Bill Dodd, aims to take a large step in addressing both concerns. If passed, SB 865 would extend the age eligibility for youth to purchase a junior hunting license from 15 years and under to 17 years and under, thereby reducing the license cost from $52.66 for an adult license to the significantly lower price of $14.04 for a junior hunting license. Further, it will allow youth to take advantage of “apprentice” hunting activities offered by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and non-profit conservation groups for an additional two years.

For decades, the CDFW has administered programs aimed at providing hunting and fishing access and opportunities, including “Fishing in the City,” hunter education courses, the Shared Habitat for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Program, and many others. SB 865 builds on these successful efforts and provides another tool to increase participation and ultimately the conservation and revenue benefits of recruiting and retaining hunters and anglers.

SB 865 passed the California Senate with unanimous support and is currently moving through the Assembly, where it recently passed out of the Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife with a do-pass recommendation. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation has been actively supporting the bill throughout the process, including testifying at committee hearings, and joining with coalition partners to submit letters in support of the bill.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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