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New York becomes 27th state to reduce barriers for new hunters

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New York becomes 27th state to reduce barriers for new hunters

Old 07-25-2008, 07:26 PM
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Default New York becomes 27th state to reduce barriers for new hunters

Families Afield introduces more than 131,000 people to hunting

With Governor Paterson signing New York's Junior Hunting bill July 23, the total number of states adopting legislation to reduce barriers to new hunters has climbed to 27 since the Families Afield program began in 2004. New data shows that across the United States, this program has opened doors to more than 131,000 youth and adults new to hunting.
New York state's Assembly Bill 11033 is expected to do the same as it lowers the age for mentored big game hunting to 14. Before this legislation was passed, New Yorkers had to be 16 years old, which was the oldest minimum age for big game hunting in the nation.
New laws such as this are the result of the Families Afield initiative, which was launched to help turn the tide against waning youth and new adult hunter recruitment and license sales -- a key source of revenue for state wildlife agencies. The program is spearheaded by the National Wild Turkey Federation and its partners, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, who work with the National Rifle Association, local sportsmen's organizations, wildlife agency personnel and legislators to pass bills that remove barriers for new hunters.
The cornerstone of Families Afield is establishing an apprentice hunting license, which allows new hunters to try hunting with experienced adult mentors before completing a hunter education course. Research has shown that mentored hunters are the safest in the woods. At the same time, states that allow apprentice hunting experience better recruiting rates. Obtaining hunter safety certification is still required for new hunters to become fully licensed.
"There can be no doubt that this program is making a difference by empowering parents to pass on their hunting heritage to the next generation of hunters," said Bud Pidgeon, President and CEO of the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance. "This track record of success should compel sportsmen in the remaining states to ask their elected leaders to take similar steps to ensure the future of hunting."
As barriers to hunting are struck down in state capitals nationwide, a new generation is discovering America's time-honored hunting tradition.
"Volunteers, staff members, our partners and legislators who made this possible have a great deal to be proud of," said George Thornton, NWTF CEO. "Their dedication to the future of hunting in America is apparent, and their commitment has cleared a path to help ensure future generations have the opportunity to experience hunting."
New research from Mile Creek Communications shows that many states that have introduced apprentice license programs have shown sharp increases in youth license sales, from 10 percent to 111 percent.
"Families Afield is meeting a critical need across America for apprentice hunting licenses," said Steve Sanetti, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. "The program is restoring the natural path to making new hunters, with adult mentors sharing the excitement of the hunt and teaching safety and ethics to youngsters."


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