Ontario, Schuyler rifle bills awaiting final approval

Albany – A bill allowing the use of rifles for deer hunting this
fall in a portion of Ontario County has been at least temporarily
stalled by a key ommission in its original draft.

And another bill that would allow rifle use this fall
in_Schuyler County has yet to be signed into law by Gov. David
Paterson.

DEC officials, however, expect both pieces of legislation to be
enacted in time for the hunting season.

The Ontario County bill was pulled back when is was discovered
that a key element of the proposal – one that would limit rifle use
to a portion of the county south of Route 20 – was inadvertently
omitted.

“I believe the bill will be amended, and we (DEC) have said,
‘fine,’ – that we support that,”_DEC_Assistant Director of Fish,
Wildlife and Marine Resources Doug Stang said late last month. “I
don’t anticipate it will be a problem getting it passed and signed
by the governor; it’s just a question of when.”

Still, DEC officials believe the legislation will move forward
this month when state lawmakers return to Albany and it will
ultimately be signed into law by the governor prior to the firearms
deer season, which opens Nov. 21 in the Southern Zone.

Rifle use in that southern portion of Ontario would be conducted
under a two-year trial – another clause within the legislation.

In addition to the delay in approving the Ontario County rifle
bill, Paterson has yet to sign a similar proposal that would allow
rifles for big-game hunting in all of Schuyler County this
season.

Assembly Thomas O’Mara, R-Big Flats, sponsored the Schuyler
County legislation, with Sen. George Winner, Jr., R-Elmira,
crafting the Senate companion bill. The Assembly approved the
measure by a 130-6 count; Senator voting details weren’t
available.

The late passage of the rifle bills again creates some headaches
for the DEC, which has already published its 2009-10 hunting and
trapping regulations guide. A similar situation arose previously
when lawmakers approved rifle use in other Southern Zone
counties.

DEC’s regulations guide this year includes a note indicating
that the Ontario and Schuyler counties legislation was pending and
those areas could be added to the rifle zone.

Paterson did sign into law a bill that allows for continued
rifle use in Madison County.

Madison County last year joined Allegany, Chemung, Cattaraugus,
Chenango, Columbia, Delaware, Fulton, Greene, Herkimer, Montgomery,
Oneida, Orange, Schoharie, Sullivan, Steuben, Ulster, Saratoga,
Tioga, Washington and Yates counties on the list of those that
allow rifles for big-game hunting. In addition, a portion of Broome
County – east of the Susquehanna River – is also part of the rifle
zone.

Madison’s rifle approval would have expired Aug. 1 without the
bill sponsored by William Magee, D-Nelson, and Sen. David Valesky,
D-Oneida. The state lawmakers noted in the bills’ memo that the
county’s board of supervisors endorsed the proposal.

The Assembly approved the measure by a 134-6 margin; the Senate
vote tally was not available.

The Madison County rifle bill was approved July 11, enough time
to allow DEC to replace the rifle zone map with an updated version
showing Madison as part of the rifle zone, Major said.

DEC will publicize any regulations changes in news releases
leading up to the big-game seasons, and will make note of the
changes on the DEC_Web site as well.

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