Illinois Hunter Safety Programs Available Online

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Hunters of all ages and all levels of experience are encouraged to focus on safety and to take a free Illinois Hunter Safety Education Course coordinated by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). Hunters now also have the opportunity to go online to sign up for one of two new web-based hunter safety courses to earn their hunter safety certificate.

"The busy fall hunting seasons are on the way and summer is the perfect time to sign up for a free hunter safety education course – or to go online for one of the two new hunter safety course options on the web – to get ready for spending time in the field this fall," said IDNR Director Marc Miller. "We want hunters and their hunting partners to be safe. First-time hunters and those with years of experience can benefit from taking a safety course."

Illinois law requires that anyone born on or after January 1, 1980 must successfully complete a hunter safety education course before an Illinois hunting license can be issued. The traditional courses, which are coordinated by the IDNR, are taught by volunteer safety instructors. The courses include instruction on hunting regulations, hunter ethics and responsibility, archery, firearms, ammunition, first aid, wildlife identification and conservation. A minimum of 10 hours of instruction is involved.

While the courses are a requirement for many young and novice hunters, many states now require hunters of all ages to furnish evidence of having completed a hunter education course before they will be issued a non-resident hunting license.

Starting this month, the IDNR is offering hunters two new convenient ways to familiarize themselves with hunting safety information through the internet. The IDNR has partnered with online companies HunterExam.com and Hunter-Ed.com to provide necessary coursework to help complete hunter safety education requirements in Illinois.

"Young people have been exposed to incredible advances in technology and they have a lot more activities competing for their time. That's why offering a way for them to learn about hunting safety and prepare for hunter safety certification at their own pace makes sense," said Director Miller.

Students may opt to take the coursework section online using either of the two new interactive hunter education courses. Students are still required to attend a one-day field day to finalize their certification.

"We recognize families have chaotic schedules, and that learning styles can vary considerably," said IDNR Safety Education Administrator Jeff Hopkins. "By offering both the traditional, lecture-style course and the opportunity to learn the material online, parents and students may select the option that works best for them."

Reviewing the online safety coursework is free to anyone, making it a tremendous tool for seasoned hunters to refresh their skills or learn about new programs and equipment each year for free.

Anyone interested in reviewing the online coursework can to do so through the IDNR web site http://dnr.state.il.us/safety.

Those who complete the hunter safety education course and pass the final exam receive a certificate of competency. Last year, more than 17,200 students completed the course in Illinois.

The IDNR Safety Education office reports there were 38 hunting-related accidents in Illinois in 2008. Of those accidents, eight resulted in fatalities (six involving tree-stand falls). To date in 2009, there have been three reported hunting accidents and no reported fatalities.

"The Illinois Hunter Education Program is an ideal way for young people and first-time hunters to learn about ways to be safe while hunting, how to enjoy the shooting sports, and to have respect for wildlife and the environment," said Hopkins.

For more information on IDNR safety education programs – and a schedule of the traditional, in-person safety education courses, check the web site at http://dnr.state.il.us/safety or call toll-free 1-800-832-2599.