Editor's note: John Mazur was recently named Hunter Education Coordinator for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Mazur was previously working as a private lands biologist for Ducks Unlimited. His home is in Woodworth. What follows is Mazur's responses to questions asked by The Minot Daily News.
MDN - A new program started recently by Game and Fish is bowhunter education. Why?
Mazur - We just got it online, up and running. It is just starting to take flight. It is not mandatory in North Dakota but it is in other states. That's why we are offering it.
MDN - What are your immediate goals for hunter education?
Mazur - We need to try and ramp it up and get more classes available. There's more demand with our population increasing. We're also looking for more volunteers. We don't have a lot of new guys. In 2015, we'll start holding a course that will be constructed for new volunteers rather than mentoring them, to get them the same across the board for everybody. Just in general, the course will show how to teach.
MDN - What about today's changes in technology and electronics versus paper and books?
Mazur - We do have an online course available. Not completely. There's two hours of pre-instruction and an approximately 14-hour online course. A student has to pass all those and then come in and do a four-hour practical which is hands-on. That's for those 16 and older.
MDN - How about the issues of hunter recruitment and retention?
Mazur - From our hunter safety standpoint, we are seeing an increase of people needing the course. I'd say we are seeing an increase, a new influx of people into the state. It is changing quickly. I can't believe it.
MDN - What is the importance of hunter education?
Mazur - It is extremely important to reduce the number of firearms incidents. Our history shows we've dramatically reduced the number of hunting fatalities since the course was started in 1979. We have over 560 instructors and we're looking for more. We need more. We've got high demand now and classes fill quick. These are changing times with new technology, and we've got to change with the times.