SALT LAKE CITY -- A bill that would create a try-it-before-you-buy-it hunter program has gained final approval in Utah's Legislature and now is making its way to Gov. Gary Herbert's desk.
On Wednesday, the House approved of S.B. 165, on a vote of 62-9, which allows for a person to obtain a hunting permit without attending a hunter safety course as long as they are going with an adult hunter that has received proper hunter safety training.
"This really is targeted at adults who may want to have a hunting experience," said Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton, the House sponsor of the bill. "This is a good opportunity to continue to grow this great sport in the state of Utah."
Handy explained in his presentation of the bill on the House floor that other states that have implemented similar programs to this have had tremendous safety records. He noted it was not the intent of the legislation for a father to take a bunch of 11-year-olds hunting without proper training but for an adult to buy a permit and then go hunting with a trained expert.
Rep. Janice Fisher, D-West Valley City, spoke in opposition to the legislation. Fisher expressed concern that Utah's hunting areas may have untrained sportsmen armed with guns.
"Anyone that is going to put a weapon in their hand that could cause any grief or death to another person should have training," Fisher said.
The legislation has the support of Utah's Division of Wildlife Resources. According to Utah's Division of Wildlife Resources, 35 other states have similar programs to this and representatives from the division have told the Legislature that the program has proven to be safe as it pushes more people to take a hunter education course after they go on their trial run.