Crossbow use remains unchanged
Albany — Extended, yes.
New York sportsmen will, pending the signature of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, be allowed to use crossbows during the regular firearms deer season through 2014.
They will not, however, see crossbow use expanded into the regular archery deer and bear seasons.
Final-day passage of legislation that extends crossbow use under its current restrictions – only in the firearms and late muzzleloader seasons – essentially keeps the implements on status quo in New York.
While crossbow advocates were pushing for passage of legislation that would allow crossbows in the regular archery season, at least for senior and physically challenged hunters, that didn’t happen.
Instead, it was Assemblyman Robert Sweeney’s proposal – one that carried a clause that essentially quashed DEC’s proposed Columbus Day weekend youth deer hunt – which advanced its way through the legislative process in the final hours of the session.
The bill’s approval was generally seen as a victory for New York Bowhunters, Inc., the statewide group that has lobbied against crossbow use within the regular archery season, and a stinging defeat for the newly formed New York Crossbow
Coalition, which had sought more liberalized crossbow use.
Coalition president Rick McDermott said the extension of the current crossbow regulations through 2014 was of at least some consolation to crossbow supporters. But expect more legislative volleying next year.
“This does not mean we will not be pursuing this (expanded crossbow use) again in January,” he said.
The legislation was also viewed as a setback for DEC’s fish and wildlife division, which saw its effort to establish the youth firearms deer hunt for 14- and 15-year-olds trumped by the legislative action.
While some staffers privately expressed disappointment, DEC chief wildlife biologist Gordon Batcheller stopped well short of that.
“We’ll fully comply with whatever law is adopted as policy. We respect the process,” he said. “We’re here in the executive branch; we implement policies that are established by lawmakers. That’s our job – to be faithful to the laws. They’re elected, they’re accountable and we’ll implement those policies.”
Sweeney’s bill, approved by a 92-44 Assembly vote, included language that prohibits firearms use during the regular archery season. That halted the proposed youth deer hunt, although amendments were approved that allow the continuation of youth pheasant and waterfowl hunts.
Some lawmakers voted in favor of the bill solely to assure the extension of crossbow use in the regular firearms and late muzzleloader deer seasons, crossbow backers contend.
Sweeney’s bill – A10583 – had not yet been forwarded to Cuomo for his signature, a necessary step in the process. There was no indication when that would happen, since lawmakers approved a steady stream of bills in the final days of the season and that could lead to a backlog.
Batcheller said he wasn’t aware if DEC was lobbying the governor’s office urging a veto of the bill.
“Right now we’re focused on polishing up the (hunting regulations) guide, going through it line by line, page by page to make sure it’s accurate,” he said.