Lansing-The Michigan House passed the “Mentored Youth Hunting Safety Program” and the “Mentored Youth Hunting License,” Tuesday, which allows youths under 10 to enjoy the recreational outdoor sport of hunting while in the presence of an adult.
House Bill 4371, sponsored by Rep. Peter Pettalia, R-Presque Isle, implements the two-part program so young hunters can join adult mentors while hunting deer, small game and turkey, as well as trapping. The youth license also will include all fishing privileges.
“Michigan’s hunting regulations for minors are tougher than other states even though we take such pride in our rich outdoor legacy,” Pettalia said. “The idea was to ensure that Michigan’s hunting heritage is passed on to the next generation. Our next generation of Michigan hunters will learn the responsibilities and safeties of hunting, and build a foundation of outdoor skills and appreciation. Mentors should have the option, just as immediate family members, to introduce minors to the traditions of hunting that is deeply integrated in Michigan heritage.”
HB 4371 directs the Natural Resources Commission to establish the mentor program so minor youth could legally hunt. It also creates the youth license for youngsters under the age of 10 to encourage all types of hunting and fishing.
The legislation is modeled after a similar Pennsylvania law that has succeeded in getting tens of thousands of youth involved in hunting with a mentor while learning proper safety and ethics at a young age.
Michigan has the lowest hunter recruitment rate in the nation, losing 166,475 hunters from 1998-2008.
“The hunting and outdoors sports industry has been an economic engine for our local communities, but participation has been shrinking as our population ages and these traditional pursuits don’t get passed on to the next generation,” Pettalia said. “Introducing young hunters to the sport not only can instill a lifetime passion for the outdoors; it also ensures that the leading supporters of the state’s wildlife development and management programs are here for the future.”
HB 4371 now goes to the Senate for consideration.