The National Deer Association (NDA) recently sent a letter to New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and House Speaker Carl E. Heastie respectfully asking the New York Senate and Assembly to include expanded outdoor recreation programming in the final Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Budget.
Earlier this year, we alerted our supporters to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recently released New York State’s 2021 State of the State Book, which outlines policy and funding priorities for the coming year. Among those proposals is an effort to expand outdoor recreation programming to promote COVID-19 safe recreation. Last year, participation in hunter safety training courses increased by 175% in New York, and the state is now looking to expand hunting opportunities in 2021.
To do this, the Governor’s office recommends expanding crossbow use to regular big game seasons, and allowing junior hunters ages 12-13 to hunt big game with a rifle or shotgun when under the supervision of a parent, guardian, or mentor. Senate staff analyses estimate that these hunting expansion provisions could provide an additional $2 million in yearly revenue from increased hunting license fees. Previous legislative attempts to expand crossbow use and lower the hunting age have been unsuccessful, and including these provisions into the FY 2022 budget may be the best opportunity to see these important conservation provisions become reality.
NDA supports the inclusion of crossbows as a legal method of take for deer and other species within appropriate seasons, wherever practical and possible, and we especially support the use of crossbows if their use positively impacts a deer management program and helps recruit and retain more hunters. New York, as evidenced by hunter participation last year, has a great opportunity to efficiently recruit, retain and reactivate hunters and conservationists for years to come.
We also support the initiative to lower the hunting age in New York. Currently, New York has the most restrictive hunting age requirements in the country, and this initiative would provide a push in the right direction. Most states allow hunters at least 12 years of age to hunt big game with the supervision of a parent, guardian, or mentor. Engaging youth in big game hunting at a young age and with appropriate supervision goes a long way in developing life-long hunters and conservationists. Further, there is no data to suggest that doing so is unsafe.
Please join NDA in supporting expanded outdoor recreation programming to promote COVID-19 safe recreation in 2021 and beyond via these important hunting and conservation provisions. Expanding the use of crossbows should provide a positive impact to New York’s deer management program and help recruit and retain more hunters. Allowing junior hunters ages 12 and up to hunt big game when under appropriate supervision will go a long way in developing life-long hunters and conservationists. CLICK HERE to ask your lawmakers to keep Transportation, Economic Development and Environmental Conservation Part X in the final version of the FY 2022 Executive Budget.