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Editorial

Game and Fish


GAME AND FISH SEEKS VOLUNTEER HUNTER EDUCATION INSTRUCTORS



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03/01/2009 - There are many opportunities in Wyoming to share the love of the outdoors with those eager to learn about wild animals and wild places, but few are as rewarding as mentoring a new generation of hunters.

That's the vital role a volunteer hunter education instructor plays, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is looking to enlist some new instructors in the Casper area to help perpetuate our hunting heritage.

"As a hunter education instructor, a person becomes a member of a special group of individuals who have made a strong commitment to educate a new generation of safe, legal and ethical hunters," said Jim Dawson, who coordinates the program for the Game and Fish. "Communities throughout Wyoming are dependent upon the essential work of these hunter education volunteers who share their excitement for and knowledge of responsible hunting."

In 2008, volunteer instructors taught more than 160 hunter education classes statewide and certified more than 3,500 new hunters. By state law passed in 1972, anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1966, must have passed hunter education to hunt with a firearm in Wyoming. Hunters on family-owned land are exempt.

Dawson says the Game and Fish currently relies on more than 400 instructors to administer the program, but more instructors are needed with Wyoming's growing population and many instructors preparing to retire.

The classes consist of 12 to 18 hours of training covering six major topics: Hunter Responsibility and Ethics, Wildlife Conservation and Management, Firearms and Firearm Safety, Wildlife Statutes and Regulations, Game Care and Wildlife Identification and Survival and First Aid.

To become certified as an instructor, volunteers need to have passed Wyoming hunter education themselves, complete an application and volunteer forms and assist at a class with a mentoring instructor. This mentorship often leads to the formation of quality hunter education teaching teams who serve in their home communities for many years.

After becoming certified, instructors are expected to teach at least one class per year and to attend a new instructor orientation within two years. Classes are taught to accommodate the instructor's personal schedule and community needs.

In addition to the satisfaction of perpetuating the hunting heritage, instructors receive complimentary subscriptions to Game and Fish publications and prizes through the incentive awards program. "The greatest satisfaction, however, often comes when handing out Wyoming hunter education cards to students who earned the instructor's signature of approval," Dawson said.

Anyone interested in volunteering his or her skills in the important job of teaching hunter education should contact Dawson at (307) 777-4531 or james.dawson@wgf.state.wy.us or Robin Kepple at 473-3409 or robin.kepple@wgf.state.wy.us.

Additional information about the Hunter Education Program can be found on the Game and Fish Web site at http://gf.state.wy.us/services/education/huntered/index.asp.

-WGFD-

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