New York is last in recruiting youth hunters

New York Governor Spitzer (who announced his resignation Wednesday) and DEC commissioner Grannis want to reverse the decline of hunting and fishing license sales in the state, or so they’ve said. Considering current regulations, especially those affecting hunting, that could be a tall order. Why? New York is the only state left in the nation that mandates a minimum age of 16 to hunt big game with a firearm, and even youths who may initially be interested in hunting are apt to find other interests by that age.

Hunting is on the decline across the nation as participation has fallen over the last three decades, and states have begun trying to bolster this rural tradition by attracting new and younger people to the sport. In the last two years, 17 states have passed laws to attract younger hunters by creating apprentice hunting licenses that allow people supervised by a trained mentor to sample the sport before completing the required course work, which typically takes 8 to 10 hours and can cost more than $200. Of course, New York is not among them.

Wildlife officials and environmental researchers offer different explanations for the decline in hunting, including rural depopulation, higher gas prices and the increased leasing of land by small exclusive clubs or the posting of “No Hunting” signs by private landowners. Others cite the prevalence of single-parent homes, where the father is not present to pass down the tradition, and the growing popularity of indoor activities that offer immediate gratification, like the Internet, video games and movies.

In New York no one under 12 can hunt at all, and youths have to wait until they turn 16 to hunt big game with a gun. In Fact, New York is the only state left that man dates the minimum age of 16 to hunt big game with a firearm. A study by the National Shooting Sports Foundation found that only 25 percent of youths from hunting families are taking up the sport. And by the time they reach 12 or 14, the chances of them ever taking an interest in hunting are very slim

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