On April 4, the Oregon House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee voted unanimously to pass House Bill 2566, which would expand the ability of first-time hunters to participate in the state’s mentored hunting program. The bill now awaits either further committee referral or a referral to the House floor for a vote.
HB 2566, as amended, would expand the maximum age for a youth to be able to participate in the state’s mentored hunting program (without first taking the state’s hunter education course) from age 14 to age 17. The bill is sponsored by Oregon Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Representative Brad Witt, and co-sponsored by fellow Caucus Co-Chair Representative Sal Esquivel, as well as Caucus Members Representatives Caddy McKeown and Greg Smith.
Under the current mentored hunting program administered by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), youth ages 9 through 13 years of age may hunt without first passing an approved hunter education program, so long as the youth in question is accompanied by a supervising hunter who is 21 years of age or older and who has a valid license and tag(s) for the dates, area, and species being hunted. As ODFW noted, the program “gives unlicensed youngsters the opportunity to receive mentored, one-on-one field experience and training on the ethics, safety, responsibility, and enjoyment of the hunting while closely supervised by a licensed adult.”
For more information on this issue, see CSF’s issue brief, Apprentice Hunting Licenses.
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?