Sportsmen’s Caucus working, but your voice needed
When it comes to New York’s outdoor resources, there are so many different things to consider when figuring out how to manage, regulate and improve. It doesn’t just happen. That’s where groups like the state’s Sportsmen’s Advisory Council (SAC) come into the picture.
It was in 2012 that the SAC came into existence, advisors to the New York legislative bi-partisan Sportsmen’s Caucus. Senators and Assembly members in Albany work closely together to deal with legislation affecting our natural resources and the activities surrounding them. They work to protect our Second Amendment rights as well as promote conservation values. Many of those efforts come at the advice of the SAC.
Members of the SAC are statewide groups like the New York State Conservation Council, the Conservation Alliance of New York, Safari Club International, National Wild Turkey Federation and the New York Crossbow Coalition. The first chairman of the group was Larry Becker of Wyoming County, a former state chapter president of the NWTF. After two years he was replaced by Rick McDermott of Oswego County with NYCC. The group’s top five priorities right now are:
• Repeal the SAFE Act or do whatever possible to amend, rescind or defund certain sections that continue to erode our Second Amendment rights.
• Enact a universal hunting age of 12 years of age. Right now, the minimum age for big game hunters with firearms is 14 years. Let’s make it all consistent and work on hunter recruitment at an earlier age.
• Push for the release of Conservation Fund monies for personnel, equipment, wildlife research and conservation projects.
• Push for legislation to classify the crossbow as a legal hunting implement for archery and grant DEC the ability to regulate crossbow use accordingly for game management.
• Remove the barriers that hinder DEC’s ability to manage the wildlife, fisheries, natural resources and sportsman recruitment and retention. DEC’s hands are tied in so many different ways, from fiscal spending to media communications. It’s affecting more than what many people realize.
These are the top five priorities and you can see they mostly deal with hunting, wildlife and Second Amendment issues. The only thing lacking, and every bit as important, is from the fishing side of things. Becker pointed out that they have performed some outreach to groups like Bass Anglers Sportsmen’s Society and Trout Unlimited, but coming up with groups willing to put the time in on these issues has not been easy. We need some fishing groups to step it up and get involved, pushing for ways to make the changes we want and need.
Again, this is only one important aspect of SAC. However, once the legislation is proposed and the time comes for outreach to politicians, it’s important for each and every sportsman and woman to do their due diligence and write a letter or make a phone call. That’s how the real work will be accomplished in this state. If you don’t like how something is going, it’s up to each and every one of us to make that political contact where we live. Without it, it’s all for naught.
An excellent case in point was when DEC was proposing the antlerless-only regulations for the early archery season this fall in several wildlife management units for a portion of the archery season (Oct. 1-15). Here in Niagara County, Dale Dunkelburger of Lockport sits on the Conservation Fund Advisory Board for Region 9 and represents area big game hunters with the state’s Conservation Council. His phone rang off the hook, all in opposition. But the state said they weren’t going to do anything this year, so it was all downplayed. Many of those sportsmen felt that they contacted Dale and that he would carry the baton to Albany. What people don’t realize is that no matter how many phone calls he fielded, he was still only one voice, one vote. We all need to take that next step and let our voices be heard.
Many thanks to the SAC for all their hard work behind the scenes. Now it’s up to us to do our job of supporting all of the hunting and fishing issues, as well as our Second Amendment rights. And make sure your local Senator or Assembly member is aware of the state’s Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, a member of the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses. Get informed and get involved, before we start losing more our outdoor heritage.
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