Thursday, February 12, 2009

Crossbows in New York State

from today's Ithaca Journal.

February 12, 2009

Dave Henderson: Two bills sure to anger some sportsmen

There are any number of bills wandering about the Democratic-controlled legislature these days that concern, if not frighten sportsmen, but two recent ones have provoked immediate controversy.

One, Assembly Bill A00924, would amend Environmental Conservation law to authorize the use of crossbows as legal hunting implements for able-bodied hunters. Crossbows are currently allowed for severely handicapped hunters, but the Assembly bill (which has no Senate counterpart yet) would allow for a special crossbow season.

It would also allow the use of a crossbow on private property in any deer season — a stipulation that will render those vehement anti-crossbow members of the bowhunting community apoplectic.

The bill calls for a minimum 14-inch bolt (arrow), a safety, a minimum limb width of 17 inches, a minimum draw weight of 100 pounds and maximum weight of 200 pounds.

The bill's justification states that "in states that allow crossbow hunting, including Georgia, Michigan, and Ohio (and now Pennsylvania) crossbows appear to be an important recruitment and retention tool for hunters.

"Further, these states found that crossbow use has not resulted in a decrease in bag limits, nor has poaching increased. As expected, where crossbow hunting is permitted, it has been documented as a safe, responsible and popular means of hunting, and it has had no ill effect on wildlife resources or on any other group of sportsmen."

Virtually identical bills died in the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee in 2005-06 and 2007-08, but Commissioner Grannis, whose party is now in the majority in both houses, has now indicated an interest in seeing it passed.

The second controversial bill is Senate Bill S1598, which would require all pistol permits (outside of New York City) to be renewed every five years, for a fee, and for all first-time permit applicants to take a safety course.

The renewal is currently required in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester and pre-application training in other counties.

The bill's "Justification" notes that "Firearms are clearly a lethal product and the owner of a firearm must know how to operate it and store it properly to prevent needless death and injury. The state requires a person who is going to operate a car to prove that he or she knows how and issues a license. Similarly, the state needs some assurance that an individual knows how to safely use his or her firearm."

License renewal would help account for all licensed firearms in the event of theft, death or other change in permit holder's condition.

This bill will definitely have life, since the sponsor is Senator Eric T. Schneiderman, chairman of the Codes Committee. There is a companion bill, A801, in the Senate.


"a safe, responsible and popular means of hunting . . ."


  1. I have one thing to say:

    “Claim the privilege of hunting according to the dictates of your own conscience, and allow all hunters the same privilege; let them practice how, where, or what they may.”

    Albert A Rasch
    The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
    Proud Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit
    Southeast Regional OBS Coordinator

  2. Albert - very well said. We hunters get all tangled up by confusing hunter ethics with hunter preferences and aesthetics. As long as it does no harm, live and let live....

  3. Late last week, the Natural Resources Commission approved an amended order to expand the use of crossbows inMichigan for any licensed hunter during all phases of the current archery season in Zone 3 (southern Lower Peninsula) and for any licensed hunter over age 50 anywhere in the state. MUCC supports the NRC's authority to establish management regulations but has expressed reservations about the hurried process by which the order was amended immediately prior to the vote.
    More »

  4. The rest of the news release:
    The use of crossbows during archery season has been controversial in Michigan for years and, for many, it's a relief to finally put the issue to rest. While most stakeholders would have preferred a more calculated, informed process for the changes enacted under the amended order, MUCC remains committed to inform the hunting public about the new regulations in addition to general information about crossbows and their use as a management tool.

    One particularly troubling aspect of the late decision centers on the broader issue of population management, a large factor being discussed as part of a year-long stakeholder and public engagement process to draft a statewide deer management plan recommendation for the state, spearheaded by MUCC. With respect to the Zone 3 regulation, the NRC partially justified its decision to expand the use of crossbows in order to further reduce deer numbers in that region, however, no restrictions on targeting antlered deer were put into place.

    "MUCC believes in sound, scientific management of our state's deer herd," said Hansen. "The NRC stated that it expanded the use of crossbows across the entire archery season in Zone 3 for management purposes - however there was no specific management plan outlined, most likely because the decision had to be made in short order. Our concern is that management decisions are being made without scientific backing. That said, MUCC is looking forward to working with both the DNR and NRC to ensure that hunters know exactly what impacts - be they positive or negative - that crossbows have as a management tool - or any other management method for that matter. In fact, that's exactly why MUCC has stepped in last year to spearhead a statewide effort to create a long-term, science-based deer management plan that takes into account the feedback of today's constituents: hunters, farmers, private landowners, foresters, and others that have a stake in deer management."

    "Our goal is to ensure that our deer herd is managed properly and that decisions made are based on science. MUCC's ongoing work with the statewide deer management planning process, we believe, will be a big step forward in doing so."

    Media Contact:
    Tony Hansen (517) 373-6483

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