Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Rocky Mountain States, Assistant Manager
Why it Matters: In a time when most of America’s youth are more connected to their phones than the outdoors, it is incumbent upon us to provide today’s young adults with plenty of diverse opportunities to become immersed in nature. While simply participating in a hunter education program does not automatically turn an individual into a lifelong hunter, it does provide them with critical knowledge that they will be able to carry with them for the remainder of their lives. In a time when conservation and wildlife management illiteracy seem to be rampant, providing hunter education opportunities in public schools can truly make a difference in educating the future stewards of Colorado’s wildlife and their habitat.
As previously reported, many outdoor activities provide mental and physical benefits, however, there are few that also directly benefit conservation and wildlife management like hunting. As such, it is important that the outdoor sporting community does its best to remove as many barriers to participation as possible. By providing students with the opportunity to take hunter education as an elective in public school, students will no longer be inadvertently excluded from taking hunter education based on parent work schedules or socioeconomic limitations, providing many students with a learning opportunity that they would not have had otherwise.
In the House Agriculture, Livestock, and Water Committee, HB22-1168 received immense support, not only from the committee members, but from the public as well. CSF’s Rocky Mountain States Assistant Manager was among those testifying in support of the bill. After being favorably amended to allow students outside of the seventh grade to partake in a hunter education elective, HB22-1168 passed out of House Agriculture, Livestock, and Water Committee 11-0. Once on the House Floor, HB22-1168 received significant bi-partisan support, passing off the floor with a 57-6 vote and sent over to the Senate where it was assigned to the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
While in the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, CSF’s Rocky Mountain States Assistant Manager testified in support HB22-1168 in addition to Ducks Unlimited, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Coloradans for Responsible Wildlife Management, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Colorado Bow Hunters Association, and others. CSF also signed onto a Colorado Wildlife Conservation Project coalition letter with over 15 other sporting conservation organizations in support of HB22-1168 that was shared with both the House and Senate Committee members.
Following several hours of discussion amongst the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee members, HB22-1168 was amended to include language, clarifying that any firearm brought onto a school campus for the purpose of hunter education is a replica and incapable of firing a projectile. Following the amendment, the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee voted 5-2 to advance HB22-1168 to the Senate floor. If HB22-1168 is able to receive the majority of votes in the full Senate, it will be sent to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
CSF will continue to provide update as they become available.
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?