Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Lawmaker introduces revised ‘blaze’ bill

By Neil Chaffie Contributing Writer

Albany — A Canandaigua assemblyman is proposing legislation that
would require deer hunters to wear blaze orange clothing while
afield during the big game season.

Brian Kolb (R-C-I, 129th District) said the measure would apply
to anyone carrying a rifle, shotgun, revolver or pistol in pursuit
of a deer or bear. The hunter would be required to display at least
250 square inches of patterned or solid blaze orange above the
waist and visible in a 360-degree arc. The penalty for not doing so
could range from $25 to $50.

The idea, the assemblyman said, is to save lives and reduce
injuries among deer hunters. Blaze orange, he said, is a
requirement in some 40 other states, including Pennsylvania, and is
designed to improve visibility among hunters.

“This will help reduce hunting accidents,” Kolb said. “The
importance here is having safety in the field.”

The assemblyman, flanked by two of his colleagues, said states
with the blaze orange requirement show a sizeable reduction in
mishaps and at the same time have not seen a decrease in hunter
success.

Assemblyman Gary D. Finch of Springport (R-C, 126th District)
said he would be proud to sponsor the Kolb legislation and added
“there hasn’t been a compelling argument” against the use of blaze
orange.

Also on hand for the press conference at the Montezuma National
Wildlife Refuge just outside the Village of Seneca Falls was
Assemblyman Bob Oaks of Macedon (R-C, 128th District). Oaks said
he’s confident the law, if passed, will be enforced by DEC officers
and compliance among sportsmen will be good.

They were joined in their support of the Kolb legislation by
Cayuga County Sheriff Rob Outhouse, refuge manager Tom Jasikoff of
Ovid and William Hall, president of the Salmon River Sportsmen’s
Club.

Jasikoff told the group that blaze orange is no stranger to
hunters admitted to the refuge. It’s required or there is no
hunting. Thus far, he added, the refuge has had no mishaps and
wants that safety record continued.

While DEC statistics show that about 80 percent of big game
hunters already wear blaze orange, there are opponents to the
proposal.

Detractors say blaze orange shouldn’t be required — particularly
in the remote backcountry of the Adirondacks — and that,
ultimately, hunters should be completely sure of their target
before firing a shot.

Outhouse said he favors what Kolb has proposed in a blaze orange
requirement and supports any measure that would improve on hunter
safety.

Both houses of the state Legislature adopted a blaze orange
requirement in 2003 but it was vetoed by Governor Pataki. Kolb said
the governor felt the penalties set forth were too harsh. In
addition, it proposed 500 square inches of blaze orange be worn.
Pataki felt that was excessive.

Also, the previous bill didn’t address hunting scenarios — such
as waterfowl and turkey hunting — where blaze orange shouldn’t be
required, officials said.

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