As a representative of the New York Athlete Advisory Council (NYSAC), I am writing to respond to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz’s veto of Local Law No. 1-1-2021, a provision that has was authorized in the 2021 New York State budget and would have expanded opportunities for young hunters. Besides being one of America’s age-old traditions, last year’s season proved yet again that hunting is one of the safest recreational activities. As such, we are writing to correct the record regarding the erroneous and misinformed veto message from the Poloncarz executive.
The county executive’s veto message focused only on gun accidents – some hunting-related and some not. While local law #1-1-2021 focused only on junior big game hunting with a firearm, Poloncarz chose to focus on non-big game hunting accidents to highlight the “ risk” that this law would have created.
Research has shown that hunting with a firearm is safer than most other recreational activities, with a national incident rate of 0.05%, which is lower than common sports like soccer (5 .27%) and soccer (1.7%).
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In addition to the misleading examples that Poloncarz relied on to prove that hunting young people is dangerous, he used non-hunting child deaths as justification for his veto.
He argued that his actions would prevent more needless child deaths, which stands in direct contrast to the data collected by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in its report Deer Hunting by 12- and 13 -Year Old Hunters.
According to the DEC, in a state with 556,897 paid hunting license holders, the 2021-22 deer hunting season saw 9,859 hunters with 12- and 13-year-old licenses and no shooting incidents. related to hunting, no hunting offense or no hunting license revocation.
The DEC then recommended to the Senate and State Assembly to permanently allow this age group to hunt deer with a gun and crossbow, hunt black bear with a gun and a crossbow and to expand the ability to pursue deer with a gun or crossbow statewide, removing the requirement for counties to pass a local opt-in law.
The junior hunter program is important in attracting new hunters. Nearly every eligible county in the Empire State has opted into this program (96% of eligible counties), which means young hunters across most of New York have had the opportunity to develop their confidence in the woods safely, spending quality time with their hunting mentor and creating memories that they will no doubt pass on to future generations.
William M. Schwerd is the chairman of the New York Athlete Advisory Council.