Fact Check

Federal Government to Restrict Hunting for Minors

Reports that the U.S. government is enacting a nationwide minimum hunting age of 21 (or 18) are fake news.

Published Oct 29, 2014

 (Wide Open Spaces)
Image Via Wide Open Spaces
The U.S. federal government is enacting a nationwide minimum hunting age of twenty-one (or eighteen).

On 27 October 2014, the National Report web site published an article reporting that the United States government was enacting a new "minimum hunting age" of twenty-one:

The United States Government has decided 2015 is the year to enact a new nationwide "minimum hunting age" of 21. Previously, each state has set its own minimum age for a hunter to hunt alone and sometimes a different age for minors to hunt while in the company of an adult.

The federal regulation, set to go into effect on July 1st, 2015, will supersede all existing hunting age restrictions in all fifty U.S. states. For example, prior to this ruling Alaska had no license require for any hunters under the age of 15; meaning that a four-year old could go out and hunt game with or without adult supervision. Under the new policy, any hunters under the age of 21 will be locked out of the sport and all hunters over 21 will be required to show a national hunting license upon request from a game warden.

The National Report article was presented like an authentic news story: It used a fabricated quote from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Gregory Pearson (who is not a real person) and cited a petition from the NRA (which does not exist). But since the writing resembled a professional news piece, many readers believed that it was true, and within a few days of its publication thousands of people had shared it on Facebook.

But none of this was true, as the National Report is a fake news site. Their disclaimer page states that they are "political satire web publication."

The minimum hunting age in the United States is currently decided by individual states, not set by federal law. In Idaho, for instance, children between the ages of 10 and 17 may get a hunting licence after they pass a hunter education course. Alaska does not require a license for a hunter under the age of 15.

On 9 September 2016, another fake news purveyor, Associated Media Coverage, got into the minimum hunting age game, reporting that under a new law nobody in the U.S. under the age of 18 would be permitted to hunt:

In attempt to create uniformity among states, the U.S. Federal Government has enacted a nation-wide minimum hunting age of 18-years old. According to government officials, the new age restriction is set to be in effect on March 1st, 2017, and will supersede all existing state-mandated age restrictions throughout the country. The new minimum age requirement will additionally prevent minors from hunting under the supervision of an adult or accompanying an adult while hunting.

That story, too, was fake, and not even original.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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