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Legislation would expand hunting opportunities for people with special needs

LANSING — An amendment to proposed state legislation would expand hunting opportunities to people with special needs. The amendment was proposed by an Upper Peninsula legislator.

State Rep. Dave Prestin has successfully proposed an amendment to House Bill 5737 to expand hunting access in Michigan. The plan will provide mentorship and support for individuals with special needs, making hunting experiences safe and enjoyable for all participants.

House Bill 5737 broadens the scope of the Mentored Youth Hunting Program to include individuals of all ages with special needs and eliminating the two-year cap so that adults with disabilities can continue hunting under the supervision of another licensed hunter. Prestin’s amendment waives the hunting license fee for people with developmental disabilities.

The Mentored Youth Hunting Program, established in 2012, allows children under 10 to hunt under adult supervision with an apprentice license. Apprentice hunters are limited to two years on an apprentice license before they’re required to take hunter safety training to continue hunting independently.

“Some of my best memories are teaching my daughter to hunt,” said Prestin, R-Cedar River. “For parents of kids with special needs who enjoy hunting, sometimes the need for direct mentorship and supervision doesn’t stop when the two-year period for an apprentice license runs out.”

“Oftentimes folks with special needs don’t have access to the same disposable income that many hunters enjoy. The fee may not be much, but it is a barrier to hunting for some,” Prestin said. “Just because someone has developmental delays doesn’t mean they should be prohibited from doing something they enjoy. I’m proud to support this bill to ensure that when deer season comes around this fall, there will hopefully be a lot of happy families back out in the woods creating memories.”

House Bill 5737 now advances to the Senate for further consideration.

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