Michigan Welcomes New Laws to Increase Hunter Participation

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Two new laws signed by Governor Jennifer M. Granholm will remove barriers to hunter participation and help the Department of Natural Resources recruit more hunters and educate a new generation of conservationists, said DNR Director Rebecca Humphries.

Governor Granholm signed into law legislation that lowers the age for hunting deer, bear and elk with a firearm on private land from age 14 to 12. Also, it lowered the age of hunting other game from 12 to 10 years old. Additionally, the Governor signed legislation that creates a hunter apprentice program in Michigan. The program would allow apprentice hunters to hunt without the required hunter education course if accompanied and closely monitored by a licensed hunter 21 and older who is mentoring them in the sport.

"Michigan's abundant natural resources are conserved and protected each day by the men and women in this state who enjoy hunting and angling," Humphries said. "Studies show that children display their interest in leisure activities by age 12, and by lowering the hunting age in our state, we can attract these youth hunters at the perfect age to get them interested in a lifetime of hunting and conserving our natural resources."

Under the new hunting age law, youth hunters must be supervised in the field by a licensed adult hunter who must maintain unaided visual and auditory contact with the younger hunter at all times. Children under the age of 14 hunting for big game - deer, bear or elk - can only hunt on private land. Children under the age of 14 hunting for small game could hunt on both public and private land.

"Experience in other states with youth hunters shows that the presence of a responsible, attentive adult is a major safety factor," Humphries said. "These new laws let parents determine whether or not their children are ready to hunt. Parents heavily involved with their children's hunting experience will provide for a safe, responsible hunting experience."

Humphries added that the apprentice hunter program would serve to attract new participants to the sport. An apprentice hunter may participate in the program for two years before being required to take a hunter safety course.

"The apprentice program is especially exciting to us because it will help attract adults who may not have had an opportunity to hunt with a parent or grandparent while growing up," Humphries said. "This will give them a chance to be mentored by an experienced hunter, so they can try the sport first before making a substantial commitment."