OLYMPIA – The new on-line version of the state’s basic hunter-education program is about to leave the old home-study course by the wayside.
Starting Aug. 1, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will no longer accept new enrollees in the standard home-study course, offered since 1995 as an alternative to traditional classroom instruction in hunter safety. Under the standard home-study course, students and instructors exchange tests and coursework through the U.S. Postal Service.
But enrollment in the old home-study course has dropped off sharply since 2005, when WDFW began offering the classroom portion of the state’s hunter education course over the Internet, said Dan Boes, a WDFW conservation education specialist.
"We just have so few people taking the course by 'snail mail' anymore that it just doesn’t make any sense to continue it," Boes said. "With e-mail, students have access to a lot more instructional materials, and we can send tests and other information back and forth a lot more quickly."
Under state law, anyone born after January 1,1972 is required to show proof of basic hunter education training before they can purchase a hunting license in Washington state.
Last year, more than 14,000 prospective hunters met this requirement by completing 17 hours of classroom instruction on topics ranging from hunting rules to outdoor ethics, followed by a test of their shooting skills. Another 195 completed the Internet or home-study options, which allow students to complete the written coursework at home.
"We generally encourage people to enroll in the classroom instruction, but recognize that approach may not work for everyone," Boes said. "Enrollment in the traditional home-study course had dropped to just a handful of people, but the on-line version still fills an important place in the basic hunter-education program."
For more information on the state’s hunter-education program, see WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/enf/huntered/index.htm.