Contact: Brent Miller, Senior Director, Northeastern States and States Program Administrator
Establishing a universal hunting age of 12 and expanding crossbow use have been long-standing priorities for the New York Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus). For more than six years, both issues have enjoyed bipartisan support as stand-alone bills and have been championed by both Caucus leaders and members. However, those bills have failed to cross the finish line, in part due to resistance in various Committees. This year Governor Cuomo saw fit to include both items in his Executive Budget Proposal. In a letter sent on February 2, Caucus Co-Chairs have called upon Senate and Assembly leadership to retain these items in the final budget agreement to the governor.
To hunt big game with a firearm, New York hunters have to wait until they are at least 14 years old – the highest starting age for deer hunting in the nation – which significantly hinders Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation (R3) efforts. As stated in the letter, “Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, youth hunting license sales were declining greater than 10% annually. However, in 2020 we saw a dramatic increase in all outdoor pursuits, hunting included, and as a part of that trend more than 16,000 prospective youth hunters took and successfully completed the hunter education course – a necessary first step before being eligible to purchase a hunting license. Given this strong interest shown by prospective youth hunters we feel it is critically important that we explore ways to provide additional opportunities for this age class.”
In a joint press release, Co-Chairs Assm. Aileen Gunther, Assm. Colin Schmitt, and Sen. Joseph Griffo stated “The New York Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus has a long bipartisan tradition of working to protect and advance the interests of New York’s sportsmen and women. We are pleased to see that two of our major priorities are included in the executive budget and strongly support establishing a universal hunting age of 12 and expanding the use of crossbows in archery season. We seek to ensure that these two proposals are included in the final adopted budget.”
CSF commends the Co-Chairs for their leadership on this issue and will continue its strong track record of engagement on these and other sportsmen’s issues in the Empire State.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?