Cuomo Seeks Hunting Regulation Changes; Deer Hunting Areas May Open Up

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While the local deer debate rages on, Governor Andrew Cuomo has used his executive budget powers to potentially loosen hunting restrictions statewide—a move his office is touting as a direct countermeasure to the spiking deer population.

As an amendment to the state’s Environmental Conservation Law, Gov. Cuomo’s budget seeks to officially allow the use of crossbows for the hunting of deer and bear. In addition, the budget would allow the use of either a long bow or a crossbow at a distance of 150 feet or more from any building—a far cry from the current 500-foot setback.

The setback change, which Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said he sees as an opportunity to greatly increase huntable areas on the East End, was recommended by the State Department of Environmental Conservation in its Deer Management Plan. It would also align New York policy with the laws of adjacent states.

Assemblyman Thiele, in support of the measure, said that a similar reduction was proposed by his office last year at the behest of local government officials.

“Deer management has been a major issue on eastern Long Island, where deer populations have skyrocketed, creating ecological, health and safety issues,” Mr. Thiele said. “These [past] measures have not been adopted by the State Legislature. As a result, farmers and local governments have been forced to look at more drastic management measures. The setback reduction, if enacted as part of the state budget, will provide a major tool that will permit the hunting community to play a greater role in reducing the deer herd.”

Mr. Thiele still threw his support behind other measures to cull the herd, but called the measure positive: “There are other management tools that still need to be implemented, both lethal and non-lethal, but the enactment of this proposal would be a good first step in reducing the number of deer on eastern Long Island.”

In addition to the loosened bow hunting restrictions, the governor’s proposed budget has added other interesting language to Section I of the Environmental Conservation law.

Presumably as a means of weapon control, Gov. Cuomo added a provision to allow the state to take away a firearm or bow hunting license from any individual who allows an unlicensed child to use his or her weapon.

In addition, in an attempt to rectify current practice with the written code, for the first time the executive is seeking to add “or she,” to sections of the law that outline who is eligible for hunting permits.

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