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Give the gift of safety this holiday season

Parents who are planning to give their child a first hunting rifle, an all-terrain vehicle or a snowmobile as a gift this holiday season should also be sure to give them the second part of the gift -- a safety training program offered by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

"DNR outdoor education safety training programs teach responsibility at an early age," said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR Enforcement Education Program coordinator. "Safety is the best gift you can give your youngster this holiday season."

Children enjoy outdoor sports and activities because they are fun, challenging and safe, but it's up to the parents to decide if the youngster is mature enough for shooting sports or operating a motorized recreational vehicle. It is also up to parents to decide if they are ready themselves for the responsibility of teaching safe firearm handling or safe recreational vehicle operation.

Hammer suggests using the holiday gift-giving season as an opportunity to teach safe firearm handling and safe recreational vehicle operation. "And there isn't a better way to do that than by enrolling your child in one of the DNR's many safety program offerings," he noted.

Stocking stuffers include Snowmobile Safety CD training courses, an ATV training CD, a boat and water safety operator's permit packet, an off-highway motorcycle CD, or an off-road vehicle CD. All course materials are free by contacting the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367.