Hunting Heritage Partnership Grant Awarded

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The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has awarded the Indiana Department of Natural Resources a $59,750 grant from its Hunting Heritage Partnership to launch a pilot program to help introduce hunter education graduates to hunting opportunities in the state.

Indiana will use the grant funds to invite hunter education graduates who lack the social support, such as that provided by family and friends with a hunting background, to special STEP OUTSIDE(R) events where they will gain valuable hunting, safety and firearms experience to start their lifelong pursuit. Social support is the critical factor in getting started in hunting and a major barrier to entry for those that lack support.

"More than 20,000 kids and adults attend Indiana's hunter education classes each year to learn about safety and our wildlife heritage. Working with conservation-minded volunteers, we hope to better mentor these students and give them the support they need to become active, involved, ethical hunters," said Glen Salmon, Indiana DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife director.

The Hunting Heritage Partnership was established by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearm industry, to provide direct funding to state wildlife agencies to help them with programs that provide opportunities for, and remove barriers to, hunter participation.

"Officials with Indiana's Division of Fish and Wildlife have designed a unique and dynamic recruitment tool and this grant recognizes their successful efforts and helps them with the launch. This is exactly the kind of creative program development that agencies in other states can look to as a model to help preserve our hunting and conservation traditions," said Doug Painter, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Indiana's 874,000 anglers and 290,000 hunters spent $846 million in Indiana in 2001 in pursuit of their pastime, which supported 16,000 jobs in the state. Efforts to expand hunting, such as youth pheasant hunting days, help boost the economy in a state where nearly one of every six Indiana residents hunt or fish, generating over $50 million in state tax revenue.

"When more hunters go afield, everyone benefits. The contributions hunters and anglers make in unique taxes paid and fees collected fund conservation efforts for all Indiana residents to enjoy," said Steve Williams, director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Applications from 36 states were submitted to the Hunting Heritage Partnership and over $500,000 in grants was awarded to 18 states for programs focusing on issues from recruitment and retention of hunters to increasing access to hunting lands. The National Shooting Sports Foundation is working with the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation and members of Congress on behalf of America's 18 million hunters to provide states with additional funding opportunities through the Hunting Heritage Partnership.

Information on NSSF and STEP OUTSIDE(R) is available at: www.nssf.org

Information on upcoming hunter education courses is available at: www.in.gov/dnr/lawenfor/hunt-edu.htm