Colorado could be the next state to allow hunters to wear florescent pink. A Democratic proposal to give hunters the option of wearing pink, in addition to orange, passed the Republican controlled Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee on Thursday.
Senator Kerry Donovan [D-Vail] hunts big game and is sponsoring Senate Bill 68.
"I hunt because it's a treasured time with my Dad and my brothers," said Donovan. "And the stories that happen in hunting camp are the stories that my family tell over and over again."
But growing up she didn't love wearing blaze orange, the universal hunting color.
"I wore the clothing because it was required, it was the safe thing to do. But the message was clear, that hunting was for men."
Women still make up a relatively small percentage of hunters, but according to the U.S. Census Bureau, that number has increased significantly over the years. And while companies are marketing apparel and gear toward women, Donovan said giving hunters the choice to wear pink could bring even more women into the sport.
"You don't have to look like a man or act like a man to take part in one of our state's most time honored traditions."
Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife testified in support of the bill. Pat Dorsey works for Parks and Wildlife and used to be the hunter education administrator. She said various studies show that pink would be safe.
"Florescent pink is as visible as florescent orange."
That safety assurance is what ultimately convinced some lawmakers to support the bill.
"Safety was my big question," said Senator Ray Scott [R- Grand Junction]. "Is it considered as safe as blaze orange? The blaze orange has been around forever."
Coming into the hearing, Scott said he wasn't in favor of the proposal, but he changed his mind. Scott, who is a hunter, said he hopes the bill would grow the sport.
"If it does help increase the number of hunters in the female population which is a good thing, I obviously support that because we need more people hunting, which we don't have right now," said Scott.
No one testified against the bill, but some lawmakers have concerns.
"I just don't see it as a big draw for women moving into hunting," said Senator Ellen Roberts [R- Durango].
She voted against the bill because she doesn't think it rises to the level of something that should become a state law. She also believes most female hunters are fine wearing orange.
"I think it's great if women get into hunting, but I don't think that will be based on the color of the clothing they can wear."
Others went so far as to say they felt the bill was sexist. Wisconsin is the only state in the country that allows hunters to wear pink. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed the bill into law on the same day as the hearing in Colorado. Colorado's proposal next heads to the full Senate for further debate.
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