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January 14, 2014

MADISON -- A new grant program, aimed at increasing hunter recruitment and retention in Wisconsin, will provide up to $10,000 in cost-sharing grants to organizations with creative plans to attract and train new hunters and mentors.

The Hunter Recruitment, Development, Training and Education Grant Program will be managed by the state Department of Natural Resources and will make a total of $200,000 in grants available every two years, beginning this year. A broad range of organizations will be eligible for the grants - including local clubs, organizations, communities, governments, Wisconsin tribes, and colleges and universities.

DNR is seeking public input on the draft guidance document which will assist those interested in applying for a grant. The form can be found by searching the DNR website for keywords "program guidance." Public comments will be accepted through Feb. 3. The document contains timelines for applications and awards. The DNR plans to begin accepting applications this year beginning March 3.

The grant money will be drawn from the state's share of federal excise tax revenue from the sale of guns, ammunition and hunting equipment, commonly known as Pittman-Robertson funding.

By capping the grants at $10,000 and making more of them available, DNR officials said they hope to attract a diverse group of applicants and a broad range of ideas and pilot projects.

"We want lots of groups involved," Scott Gunderson, DNR assistant deputy secretary, told the Sporting Heritage Council at a meeting in Madison.

The 12-member council will review applications for the grants and provide input. The final decision on grant awards will be made by the DNR secretary. The council, which includes four legislators, was appointed by Gov. Scott Walker to advise the governor, the Natural Resources Board and the legislature on hunting, fishing and trapping issues with a focus on recruitment and retention and increasing access to resources and outdoor opportunities.

"We know we need to work with our partners as we search for ways to preserve Wisconsin's hunting heritage and to ensure that future generations of safe and ethical hunters will have the knowledge, skills and abilities to enjoy the hunt and all the benefits that hunting provides" said Keith Warnke, a DNR hunter recruitment specialist.

The Hunter Training, Development, and Education grant program will also focus on developing and pilot-testing various programs and evaluating effectiveness of those programs.

The secondary purpose of this new grant program is to continue the Learn to Hunt reimbursement program for Learn to Hunt sponsor groups and individuals.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke 608- 576-5243, Paul Heinen, 608- 266-2120, or Ed Culhane 715-781-1683

Last Revised: Tuesday, January 14, 2014

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