Cayuga rifle bill awaits Gov. Cuomo’s signature
Albany — Cayuga County deer hunters will be able to use rifles this fall if Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs into law legislation approved by the Senate and Assembly.
The legislation – S6801 and its Assembly companion, A9638 – reached Gov. Cuomo’s desk earlier this month and was expected to be signed into law.
It will add Cayuga County to a growing list of counties in New York where rifles can be used for big game (deer and, where permitted, bear).
Sen. Michael Nozzolio, R-Fayette, was the prime sponsor of S6801, while Assemblyman Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, was the chief sponsor of A9638.
S6801 was approved in May by a 127-13 vote, while the Assembly passed the bill on June 18 in the final week of the legislative session.
Since the bill hasn’t been signed into law by Gov. Cuomo, DEC officials were forced to issue a notice within its 2012-13 hunting and trapping regulations guide alerting hunters to the possibility that rifles may be legalized in Cayuga County.
That scenario has occurred in recent years when legislation approving rifle use in other counties was approved. DEC officials said that since the legislation involves a less restrictive law, it doesn’t create the kind of enforcement headaches that could occur if regulations were tightened.
DEC chief wildlife biologist Gordon Batcheller said the regulations guide will include a notice that legislation involving Cayuga County rifle use was pending and could be approved.
Kolb, in sponsoring A9638, noted that “since 2005, several counties in the Finger Lakes Region, Central New York and the Southern Tier have been allowed to permit hunting of deer and bear with rifles. There have been very few reported adverse incidents or problems. Given the rural nature of Cayuga County and the safety record of hunters in the counties where rifle hunting has been permitted, it would be reasonable to now permit rifle hunters in Cayuga County the same opportunities.”
Several other rifle bills – involving Rockland County, most of Albany County and a portion of Ontario County – failed to advance beyond the environmental conservation committee during this legislative session.
Rifles are now allowed in all of the state’s Northern Zone, as well as the Southern Zone counties of Orange, Rensselaer, Sullivan, Ulster, Columbia, Greene, Delaware, Chenango, Cortland, Otsego, Schoharie, Montgomery, Madison, Tioga, Chemung, Schuyler, Yates, Steuben, Allegany and Cattaraugus and Wyoming counties. Rifles are also allowed in a portion of eastern Broome County, the southern portion of Chautauqua County, as well as the sections of Washington, Herkimer, Fulton, Oneida and Oswego counties which lie in the Southern Zone.