After Michigan lawmakers decided that hunter-safety education is the reason for dwindling hunter numbers, another group blames a far more obvious culprit.
Lansing wants to pass laws lowering ages when youngsters can hunt and laws that allow them to hunt before completing safety training.
Research by the Natural Conservancy suggests neither tactic will do much.
That's because most kids in their early teens aren't dreaming of going deer hunting with dad's trusty .30-06. Instead, they're awake all night playing video games, watching television or prowling the Internet.
The Nature Conservancy, a national group with the goal of protecting and preserving wild places and an appreciation for them, hired a team of researchers to figure out why the number of people visiting national parks has been declining the past half-dozen years. The National Science Foundation helped pay for the study.
What they found should be no surprise.
The researchers tested two dozen variables and found video games, home-movie rentals, going out to movies, Internet use, and rising fuel prices explained almost 98% of the decline in people visiting national parks.
Basically, kids and families are more into TV than trees.
That matches a National Wildlife Federation study that said children spend about 45 hours a week tuned into electronics.
Turning our kids into people who care about the environment is going to take more than state lawmakers fiddling with age limits.
It's time to unplug their toys and kick their flabby butts out the door.
Be careful, though, you may discover the problem is one of your own devising.
Another study I saw found parents lamenting their children don't know how to go outside and play. Asked what they did when they were kids, three quarters of moms surveyed said they were outdoors, all day, until their parents yelled at them to come home, every summer day.
You remember: Hide-and-seek while the crickets sang, then someone said you should come inside because Gunsmokewas on, and you answered, "So what?"
But those same moms said their kids were a third as likely to go outside as they were.
The end result is a future voting public that not only doesn't care about the environment, it can't identify it.
In other news, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is conceding to demands and restricting deer hunting this fall. Really.
After a series of public hearings, the DNR has begun adjusting deer-hunting regulations to try and better match public preferences with management goals. The first step is cutting back the number of antlerless tags available this fall.
In several areas, no antlerless tags will be issued this fall. Other places will have tags restricted to private lands only.
The definition of private land will revert to 40 acres, instead of the recent standard of 10 acres, which made acquiring tags easier. Also, hunters will be limited to three antlerless tags a year.
The hot rumor is there may be a one-buck-per-year restriction coming for certain regions as well.
Contact Michael Eckert at 989-6264 or at email@example.com
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