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Window for Youth Hunting Bill Closing in Wisconsin Senate

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Window for Youth Hunting Bill Closing in Wisconsin Senate

(Madison, Wisconsin) - Sportsmen ask Senators for a vote that will spur increased
hunter numbers.
With only days left in the 2007-2008 legislative session, the Wisconsin Senate has
not held a vote on sportsmen's top priority, legislation to create a hunting
mentorship program.
On March 5, the Wisconsin Assembly passed legislation expected to produce better
hunter numbers. The bill, Assembly Bill 672, was authored by Representative Scott
Gunderson. It has been the top priority of many Wisconsin and national sportsmen
organizations since 2005. The Senate version of the bill, SB 529, has been
approved in committee and is ready for a vote on the Senate floor.
Approval by the Senate and the signature of Governor Jim Doyle are all that stand
in the way of a victorious end to the campaign.
"We were thrilled the Wisconsin Assembly passed a bill that will allow parents to
pass on their hunting traditions to the next generation," said Rob Sexton, vice
president for government affairs for the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance (USSA). "We'd
be very disappointed to see this important legislation die in the Senate."
Time is the issue. With only days left in the 2008 session, Senators will have to
move quickly to pass Senate Bill 529 before the legislative deadline, sometime in
mid-March. Indications from Senate Majority Leader, Russ Decker, and committee
chairman, Senator Roger Breske, have been positive, but time is growing short.
The legislation is part of the national Families Afield campaign created by the
National Wild Turkey Federation, National Shooting Sports Foundation and USSA. In
Wisconsin, the bill has been enthusiastically supported by the National Rifle
Association, Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, Wisconsin chapters of Safari Club,
Wisconsin State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Wisconsin Waterfowl
Association, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and more.
Under the proposed program, a new hunter, ten or older, could go hunting with an
experienced sportsman as long as the two stayed within an arm's reach. There can
be only one firearm between the two hunters. The bill also repeals Wisconsin's
archaic prohibition of young people target shooting with their parents until age
Similar programs have already passed in 24 states since 2004, including 2008
measures in Nebraska, South Dakota, Virginia and Wyoming. Neighboring Michigan,
which launched its program in 2006, had 12,000 new hunters in just the first year
of the program. There have been no accidents involving participants in any of the
states that have passed mentored hunting legislation. It supports previous research
that demonstrated that the safest hunter in the woods is one accompanied by an
experienced mentor.
The success in other states has Wisconsin sportsmen wondering why they don't
deserve the same opportunity.
"Our hunting heritage is as crucial here in Wisconsin as any of the states that
have already taken this step," said Bill Torhorst, past president of the National
Wild Turkey Federation. "We really need our senators to come through for sportsmen
and pass Senate Bill 529."
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