Wisconsin Lowers Hunting Age to 10
Wisconsin 10-year-olds can now legally carry guns -- at least into the woods.
Previously, kids in Wisconsin had to be at least 12 years old to hunt with supervision and 14 to hunt alone, but now any child 10 or older can legally hunt with an adult companion, according to the Associated Press.
Wisconsin's revised regulations let any child 10 or older hunt with an adult mentor -- without taking a safety course first. The two must stay within arm's length of one another, and can only carry one gun or bow between them. It also provides a discount on hunting licenses and stamps for 10- and 11-year-olds.
Some say allowing younger children to hunt will help preserve the state's long-standing hunting traditions. Others, however, disagree and say kids that young do not have the maturity to handle firearms under any circumstances.
Dr. Kathryn Nichol, a retired Madison, Wis. pediatrician and former member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' board told the AP that the new lower age is, "absolutely not a good idea."
The bill was supported by an initiative called Families Afield, which is made up of three partner organizations: the National Wild Turkey Federation, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance.
Similar laws have been enacted in 28 states since 2005, and more than 238,300 new hunters have been introduced to the field, according to Greg R. Lawson, director of communication for the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance.
Lawson told ParentDish that the new law is meant to encourage participation in a declining sport, while at the same time boosting funding for wildlife conservation.
"Encouraging participation in hunting is important to our outdoor heritage, but there is also a practical policy component to this," Lawson said. "Hunters need outdoor gear, and a share of the taxes they pay on those items goes toward conservation funding."
He added that the law in no way encourages kids to go out in the woods, "Lone Ranger-style and just shoot things up."
"This is a safe thing, and the numbers bear that out," Lawson said. "These kids are going to be going out with licensed, experienced mentors, and if they find out that they like it, they will have to do the training eventually."
Should kids as young as 10 be allowed to hunt, even with an experienced adult?
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