Governor Rendell Signs First Families Afield Bill in the Nation

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Governor Edward G. Rendell today made Pennsylvania the first state in the nation to begin a mentored youth hunting program with the ceremonial signing of a bill designed to encourage young people to learn about hunting with their families. House Bill 1690 empowers the Pennsylvania Game Commission to create the program.

“Pennsylvania is well known for its hunting tradition. Not only is it an outdoor activity that brings families together, but it’s an economic asset for our state,” Governor Rendell said. “By signing House Bill 1690, Pennsylvania becomes the first to encourage our youth to try the sport without having to take hunter education. Now, as long as they are with a licensed hunter, youngsters can venture into the woods with just an apprentice hunting license.

“We need this law because for every 100 hunters who retire, only 62 take up the sport. If this trend continues, our ability to manage wildlife will be severely affected and Pennsylvania’s economy will suffer. House Bill 1690 is designed to increase sportsmen’s numbers and keep our hunting tradition alive.”

When regulations are adopted by the Pennsylvania Game Commission pursuant to HB 1690, youth participating in this program will not need to attend hunting classes. This bill also legalizes the use of natural, or manmade, non-living bait—or, any electronic or mechanical device—to attract coyotes for hunting or trapping, as well as the use of any decoy to hunt or trap furbearers.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bruce Smith (R-Cumberland/York) passed the House 193-1 and the Senate, with amendments, 50-0. The House concurred 195-1. The bill becomes effective in 60 days.