DEC tries to reverse outdoor youth activities decline

Last week this column lamented on New York being the worst state in the nation at recruiting youths into the hunting fold, primarily due to the highest-in-the-nation minimum age to hunt or use a firearm. This month the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation submitted the following bills regarding Fish and Wildlife programs for introduction during the 2008 Legislative Session: Unfortunately, these bills must pass through our legislature, the majority of which is controlled by NYC-area politicians, who historically have been anti hunting and anti gun.

The bills presented by the DEC to the legislature are:

1. Junior Hunter/Trapper Mentoring -- This bill would establish a junior big-game hunting license and a junior trapper mentoring program. The junior hunting license would allow 14- and 15-year-olds (who can already hunt small game with a firearm) to obtain a license to hunt big game with a firearm. The junior hunter would have to be accompanied by an adult who a) is 21 years or older and has at least three years of big-game hunting experience and b)exercises control over the junior hunter at all times during hunting. The trapper mentoring program would allow licensed trappers to serve as ėmentorsî and allow someone younger than 12 (who doesn’t have a trapping license) to assist with trapping.

2. Modernize Fish and Wildlife Law -- The bill would: (a.) Give DEC authority to regulate ring-necked pheasant and quail statewide. (b.) Enable the final federal regulations to set migratory game-bird hunting seasons in NYS, except where more restrictive regulations have been adopted by DEC. (c.) Permit the use of longbows beyond 250 feet of structures. (d.) Allow the taking of snapping turtles by hand, net or turtle trap. (e.) Allow the use of crossbows by seniors/persons with disabilities. (f.) Allow the use of live-restraint cable devices for trapping furbearing animals.

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