(SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL) Every winter, duck hunter Randall Smith invites a flock of friends and family members to join him on the wetlands, but no one ever takes him up on the offer. So he makes the trip alone, driving hours to hunt at dusk rather than dawn because development has claimed the public lands that were once much closer to his Santa Cruz home.
“I feel like a dying breed,” said Smith, a 71-year-old martial arts teacher.
With waning public interest, an ever-shrinking number of hunting grounds because of urbanization, stricter gun laws and the loss of family traditions, fewer Californians are hunting than ever before — less than 1%of the population, compared with 4% nationally. But the state is now trying to reverse that trend by “recruiting, retaining and reactivating” hunters – an initiative dubbed R3.
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That’s because the loss of revenues from hunters means that California could lose critical funding to protect its public lands, state wildlife officials say.