On November 7, the Wisconsin Senate approved Assembly Bill (AB) 455 by a vote of 21 – 12, and now awaits the signature of Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Scott Walker. Sponsored by Wisconsin Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs Senator Terry Moulton and Representative Joel Kleefisch, the bill removes restrictions on Wisconsin’s popular mentored hunting program.
The Wisconsin Assembly previously approved the bill on November 2.
AB 455 would build upon the success of Wisconsin’s apprentice hunting program by removing the restriction that apprentice hunters must be at least 10-years old, thereby increasing opportunities for youth to enjoy spending time in the woods and fields with family and friends. The bill also allows for the mentor, in addition to the apprentice, to have a firearm, bow, or crossbow, which would encourage experienced hunters to serve as mentors and introduce new hunters to our outdoor heritage.
Wisconsin issued over 26,000 apprentice hunting licenses last year.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation submitted written testimony in support of AB 455 while the bill was being considered in committee. Apprentice hunting allows outdoor mentors to instill safety, ethics, and a passion for wildlife conservation for new hunters, without requiring the first-time hunter to spend significant time in a hunter education course before they have had a chance experience hunting first-hand.
Apprentice hunting programs are an important part of recruitment, retention, and reactivation efforts, helping introduce new hunters to the outdoors and conservation. The Badger State boasts more than 1.5 million sportsmen and women, ranking 9th in the nation. Wisconsin hunters and anglers spend over $4.03 billion annually, supporting more than 55,700 jobs in Wisconsin.
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?