On May 17, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed into law House Bill 2566, which expands the ability of first-time hunters to participate in the state’s mentored hunting program. The bill received unanimous passage in both the House and Senate, and addresses the need for creative approaches to reverse the decline in hunting participation.
HB 2566 expands the maximum age for youth who are able to participate in the state’s mentored hunting program (without first taking the state’s hunter education course) from ages 13 to 16. The bill was 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.
The Oregon Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus has made the bill a priority piece of legislation for the Caucus to support during the 2017 session, and issued support letters for the bill on both the House and Senate floors. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation also submitted a letter in support of HB 2566 prior to the bill’s hearing in the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources on April 26, as did the Oregon Hunters Association, National Wild Turkey Federation, and National Shooting Sports Foundation.
Under the current mentored hunting program administered by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), youth ages 9 – 13 may hunt without first passing an approved hunter education program, if accompanied by a supervising hunter who is 21 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 hunting while closely supervised by a licensed adult.”
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?