On Tuesday, April 1, 2014, the New York 2014-2015 approved budget – which the Assembly and Senate approved on March 31 – was signed into law. Included in the approved state budget are provisions which will allow crossbow use for all small game and any big game season that includes firearms. Additionally, crossbows will be allowed during the last 14 days of the Southern Zone and the last 10 days of the Northern Zone early archery seasons. Suffolk and Westchester counties are the only areas of the state where hunting is legal that will be excluded from these new crossbow allowances. Crossbows will now be turned over to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to draft regulations.
“This was a hard-won victory that is the result of collaboration and persistence,” said Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, Co-Chair of the New York Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus. “Allowing use of the crossbow will enable more people to hunt with archery equipment – including those with disabilities and aging bow hunters who can no longer use a longbow or compound bow. I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues and the sportsmen’s community to realize this change that will attract additional sportsmen and allow those who have been active sportsmen for years to stay active.”
Another critical sportsmen’s issue included in the budget is a reduction of the current archery setback of 500 feet (the distance required from an occupied dwelling which a bow or crossbow may be discharged) to 150 feet for bows and 250 feet for crossbows. This measure will greatly help the DEC manage burgeoning wildlife populations in suburban areas. Both the archery setback reduction and crossbow inclusion were recommended by the DEC in their Five-Year Deer Management Plan released in 2011.
Rick McDermott, President of the New York Crossbow Coalition and lead in-state champion of this issue stated, “The New York Crossbow Coalition celebrates the enactment of this legislation recognizing crossbows as legal hunting implements in New York State and reducing setbacks for archery equipment. We thank all who worked on this issue, including the New York Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, for their support and commitment to sportsmen and women. These new measures will provide additional opportunities for hunting and professional wildlife management across New York, while simultaneously stimulating the state’s economy. This is a great victory for sportsmen and women in New York, as well as professional wildlife management, and is a reflection of the strong cooperative effort among all outdoors groups.” Rick McDermott also serves as the Vice-Chairman of the New York Sportsmen’s Advisory Council – a coalition of in-state sportsmen’s conservation groups that supports the Caucus.
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?