Crossbow bills back in state Legislature

By Don LehmanContributing Writer

Albany – A bill to allow hunting by crossbow was introduced in
the state Assembly late last month, putting legislation to create
crossbow seasons in both houses of the state Legislature.

However, the president of New York Bowhunters Inc., the
statewide bowhunters’ organization, said he still did not believe
there was sufficient support for crossbow hunting for it to become
law.

In fact, Gary Socola, president of New York Bowhunters, said he
believes the only people pushing for the legalization of crossbow
hunting are those who manufacture them and a handful of outdoor
writers.

‘There is no crossbow user group that is getting together to
target shoot or build ranges,’ Socola said. ‘This is all coming
from the manufacturers.’

There is a New York State Crossbow Hunting Association which has
lobbied for the legalization of crossbows to hunt game,
however.

Proponents of the legislation have argued it could help the
disabled hunt, aid in the recruitment of hunters and bring in
revenue for the state in the sale of licenses for crossbow hunters.
If passed, the legislation would require the state to create
standards for crossbow hunting by the summer of 2009.

Socola said he does not believe that the users have shown there
is enough support for a crossbow hunting season. In fact, the
organization has pointed to a study several years ago to show there
was opposition to it.

And he said there is already sufficient equipment on the market
that allows most handicapped hunters to adapt compound bows for
use. He said he is adaptive equipment chairman for the North
American Bowhunting Coalition, and recently helped a severely
handicapped man equip a bow and take a deer with it.

‘There is adaptive equipment available for almost anybody who is
physically handicapped,’ he said.

Gerald Barnhart, the director of DEC’s Bureau of Fish, Wildlife
and Marine Resources, could not be reached for comment as of press
time.

But Lori O’Connell, a spokesperson for the DEC, said the agency
has not taken a position on the proposal.

Because crossbow hunting is banned by law and not a state
regulation, a law would have to be enacted that changed the
law.

‘We can’t trump a law with our regulations,’ she said.

The bill in the Senate, S22, was introduced earlier this year by
Sen. George Maziarz, R/C-Newfane. A companion bill was introduced
in the Assembly, A8654, was put in by Assemblywoman Francine
DelMonte, R/C-Niagara Falls.

Both bills were forwarded to the conservation committees of
their houses and not scheduled for votes as of press time.

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