SPRINGFIELD — A bill allowing youths to hunt without first completing a hunter safety course -- as long as they're accompanied by a parent, grandparent or guardian -- won unanimous approval Thursday in the Illinois House.
Senate Bill 853, which already was passed by the Senate, now goes to Gov. Pat Quinn.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton, establishes a youth hunting license available to Illinois youths 16 and younger at a cost of $7 per year. The youth would be able to get the license for multiple years, rather than just the one year allowed under current law.
Costello said completing the hunter safety course is burdensome for youths who, in many cases, might still be determining whether hunting is something they'd enjoy.
"The goal of the legislation is to make it easier for youths and families to be involved in hunting and the outdoors," Costello said.
The measure allows the holder of a youth license to carry a gun or bow only if the youth is "under the close personal supervision of a parent, grandparent, or guardian who is 21 years of age or older and has a valid Illinois hunting license."
The bill passed the House 117-0. It passed the Senate last month by a 57-0 vote.
If a youth hunter reaches age 17 or chooses to hunt without supervision, he or she then would be required to complete a state-approved hunter safety course.
The state's hunter safety course requires 10 hours of instruction and the completion of a final examination. The course can be completed in traditional, face-to-face sessions with an instructor, or the student can complete a hybrid online course, which includes a 5- to 7-hour field day.
A spokesman for Quinn said the governor supports the bill.
Contact reporter Brian Brueggemann at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2511.