Tuesday, February 7th, 2023
Tuesday, February 7th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

N.Y hunting license sales decline again in 2007-08

Albany – Hunting license sales took another dip this past season
in New York state, but didn’t show the double-digit decline DEC
officials at one time feared.

Instead, total hunting license sales in 2007-08 declined by less
than 5 percent after a late run on licenses just prior to the
regular Southern Zone firearms deer season opener.

Hunting license sales in mid-January, according to DEC
statistics, stood at just short of 864,000 for the 2007-08 license
year – down from just over 901,000 the previous year.

That’s about a 4.5 percent dip.

DEC officials were hoping that late license sales – after the
Oct. 1 deadline date for Deer Management Permits – before the
Southern Zone deer season would close that gap. Still, license
sales dipped below 900,000 for just the second time in modern
history; hunting license sales were at 896,612 for the 2005-06
season when DMPs were slashed dramatically.

New York, like most states in the U.S., is seeing its hunting
population age and fewer new hunters entering the sport than are
leaving.

That’s especially true in New York, which has the most stringent
youth hunting regulations in the nation, with a 16-year-old minimum
age for big-game hunting with a firearm.

And things could get worse, says DEC Assistant Director of Fish,
Wildlife and Marine Resources Doug Stang.

“We have a big block of hunters who, in the next 4 or 5 years,
will enter that 65 and older category,” Stang said. “Our hunters
are getting older; we know that’s happening here in New York.”

DEC this year – with the support of the governor’s office – is
pushing legislation that would lower that minimum age for big-game
hunting with a firearm from 16 to 14. New York would still have the
most restrictive youth hunting regulations in the country even if
that legislation passes, but it’s a step in the right directions,
most sportsmen contend.

“We need to get kids out there at an earlier age to enjoy the
outdoors with their fathers and grandfathers,” Stang said, adding
that more youths afield could also energize the older hunting
fraternity and keep them in the sport.

“There’s a special bond between a grandson or granddaughter and
grandfather. If we can somehow foster that, then it’s even more
reason to get this (legislation) through,” he said.

New York hunters have long pushed for a lower minimum hunting
age for big game, but early indications are that they haven’t made
their wishes known to state lawmakers this time around.

“We’re hearing there’s not a great groundswell of support for
this – in terms of calls and letters to state lawmakers,” Stang
said. “And that’s disappointing. Legislators need to hear from
them. (Sportsmen and women) need to call their legislators and tell
them this is important. That’s what they’ve been telling us for
years, and now it’s time to walk the walk. Talk is cheap.”

Some observers theorize that the state’s hunters have seen so
many similar bills die a natural death in the Legislature over the
years they aren’t pinning their hopes on this proposal.

But there are encouraging signs, notably that the DEC is pushing
this proposal. That doesn’t happen without backing from the
governor’s office, which could mean that if passed by the
Legislature, it would be signed into law by Gov. David
Paterson.

“The governor is on board,” Stang said. “DEC is pushing this and
unless the governor’s office is on board that doesn’t happen.”

Too, one mentored hunting bill – which would allow 14-year-olds
to hunt deer and bear with a firearm if accompanied by an adult
hunter – was introduced by an Assembly Democrat, Aileen Gunther of
Sullivan County. The state assembly is where most of those
pro-hunting proposals have stalled in past legislative
sessions.

Political insiders have said the 14-year-old proposal offers the
best chance for passage; bills that would lower the minimum
big-game hunting age to 12 have never fared well in the past.

The state’s hunting license sales saw across-the-board declines
in 200708:

€ Big-game license sales fell from 721,312 in 2006-07 to nearly
708,000 this year.

€ Small-game license sales were at just over 250,000 through
mid-January, down from 281,606 in 2006-07.

Trapping license sales also declined slightly, from 13,015 in
2006-07 to 12,571 this year.

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