Governor Blagojevich Signs Bill Expanding Illinois Apprentice Hunter License Program Opportunities
HB 2825 allows potential hunters from out of state to participate in once-in-a-lifetime program
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation expanding eligibility in Illinois’ Apprentice Hunter License Program to out of state hunters. The Illinois Apprentice Hunter License Program grants limited hunting privileges to residents – and now non-residents – of the state interested in trying hunting, before buying a regular Illinois hunting license. House Bill 2825, sponsored by Representative Mark Beaubien, Jr. (R-Wauconda) and Sen. J. Bradley Burzynski (R-Sycamore), unanimously passed both the House (108-0-0) and the Senate (58-0-0).
“The Apprentice Hunter Program allows people who may not otherwise get a chance to hunt to participate in a safe and fun way with an experienced, licensed hunter,” said Governor Blagojevich. “Now, people of all ages from out of state can enjoy what Illinois has to offer.”
The Apprentice Hunter License Program was signed into law by Governor Blagojevich in July 2006. This program allows youth, ages 10-17, to hunt when supervised by an Illinois licensed parent, guardian or grandparent before purchasing a traditional hunting license and allows apprentice licensees aged 18 or older to join any licensed Illinois hunter. The expansion allows non-residents to take advantage of these same opportunities. The program has a $7 fee which is paid to the Wildlife and Fish Fund, which supports the activities of the Department of Natural Resources.
“This bill gives hunters from around the Mid-west and the country a chance to sample Illinois hunting and to help stimulate local economies,” said Representative Mark Beaubien, Jr. (R-Wauconda).
“This bill is a practical way to show off the great hunting Illinois has to offer to those from around the state, and now around the country, who might not otherwise have the chance to experience it,” said Sen. J. Bradley Burzynski (R-Sycamore).
Individuals are allowed only one apprentice license per lifetime. The license is only valid for the license year that it is purchased. Illinois joins Kansas, Ohio and Tennessee which currently have similar programs. There were 1,660 apprentice licenses issued last year and 232 have been issued so far this year.
Safe hunting remains a priority in Illinois, as the IDNR offers free hunter safety education courses throughout the state. Illinois law requires that anyone born on or after January 1, 1980 must successfully complete a free hunter safety course, before a regular Illinois hunting license is issued. The courses, coordinated by the IDNR and taught by volunteer safety experts, include instruction on hunting regulations, archery, firearms, ammunition, first aid, wildlife identification and conservation, and hunter ethics and responsibility. A minimum of 10 hours of instruction is involved.
Those who complete the course and exam receive a certificate of completion. More than 17,000 hunters completed the course last year. For the license year ending March 31, 2005, Illinois issued more than 334,000 hunting licenses.
Governor Blagojevich’s efforts on behalf of hunters and outdoor recreation also include:
- Investing $15 million through the Hunter Heritage initiative to increase lands available for public hunting;
- Expanding hunting opportunities by adding to existing seasons and increasing the number of available permits;
- Streamlining hunting and fishing permitting and licensing through DNR Direct, the state’s automated system that includes point-of-sale and online permit and license convenience for hunters;
- Creating the Conservation Stewardship Program, allowing Illinois landowners to maintain and enhance wildlife habitat on their property while limiting their tax liability;
- Developing the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta, a world-class facility featuring trap, skeet, sporting clays, and other shooting sports opportunities.
For details on how to obtain an Illinois Apprentice Hunter License, visit the IDNR website at www.dnr.state.il.us.