Put down the vape pens, cancel Zumba classes and pick up a rifle: California is encouraging its residents to go out and hunt in an effort to rebrand the declining pastime.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife said Thursday it is partnering with other state and federal agencies to “address barriers and opportunities to hunting and fishing in the state.”
Though their image-- for urban parts of the country-- suggests otherwise, hunters play an essential role in wildlife conservation. Since 1937, hunters have contributed more than $14 billion to the conversation of wildlife. But in the last five decades, the number of Americans over the age of 16 who hunt has dropped by half, according to a 2016 U.S. Fish and Wildlife survey.
Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham said the agency has hired a task form to help change the public’s perception of hunting and "encourage people to get outdoors and enjoy California’s wild places.”
"The fishing and hunting opportunities in this state are unparalleled, they belong to all Californians and should be utilized by all of us," Bonham said. "This effort is to make sure Californians know that."
California is the latest state attempting to reach younger generations. Last month a hunter recruiter for the Georgia Wildlife Federation told The Wall Street Journal: “Earthy crunchy aligns very well with deer hunting.”