Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation that will greatly improve the ability to pass hunting along to future generations. Assembly Bill 455, sponsored by Assemblyman Rob Stafsholt (R-New Richmond), allows parents to decide when their children are ready to start hunting by eliminating the minimum-age requirement set in current law.
The effort was part of the national Families Afield partnership, a coalition led by the Sportsmen’s Alliance and partners from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, National Rifle Association and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. The coalition has successfully promoted mentored hunting legislation in 40 states over the last 12 years. However, in Wisconsin legislation passed in 2009 approved highly restrictive mentored hunting law that established a minimum age of 10, and prohibited mentors from carrying a firearm or bow along with the apprentice.
By contrast, nearly half of Pennsylvania’s mentored hunters are under age 10, and only three other states prevent a parent from deciding if their son or daughter was mature enough to also carry a firearm. The safety record in all mentored hunting states has been incredible, demonstrating that the restrictions in Wisconsin were completely unneeded.
As a result, the Families Afield partners, led by the Sportsmen’s Alliance, have worked since 2009 to eliminate them. Both the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate passed Assembly Bill 455, with bipartisan support, which eliminates both restrictions.
“Assembly Bill 455 trusts parents to make the right decisions about when their kids begin to hunt, and whether they are ready to carry a firearm or bow. This bill brings Wisconsin up to date with neighboring states where parents have been making these decisions with safe results for many years. We are grateful for the support of our partners to finish the job in Wisconsin after eight long years,” said Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of the Sportsmen’s Alliance.
“We salute Gov. Walker and the Wisconsin legislature, specifically Assemblymen Rob Stafsholt, Joel Kleefisch and Sen. Terry Moulton, for championing this cause, which will result in more mentors in the field, and many more young people to join them,” he continued.
In addition to the national Families Afield partners, AB 455 was supported locally by the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, Wisconsin chapters of Safari Club International and the Wisconsin Bowhunters Association also pushed legislators to pass the long sought-after changes.
About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research. Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: Online, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.