Bill before governor to lower hunting age
Both the New York State Assembly and Senate have passed legislation that would lower the hunting age across the state from 16 to 14 years old. Pending the governor’s approval, the legislation passed would also allow 12- and 13-year-olds to hunt small game.
While still a member of the Assembly, 48th District State Sen. Darrel Aubertine, D-Cape Vincent, had co-sponsored similar legislation to involve hunters at a younger age.
Earlier this year, along with District Senator David Valesky, D-Oneida, and Assemblywoman Ginny Fields, D-Oakfield, Aubertine urged Gov. David Paterson to make the bill one of his program bills. He continued to fight for the passing of this bill and was thrilled with the Senate following the Assembly’s lead and passing it by a 61-1 margin.
“I am extremely pleased that finally, after years and years of wrangling, it looks like this will be signed into law,” Aubertine said. “This bodes well for hunter safety and getting more young people into sports of field with a mentor.”
The bill that passed through the Senate Wednesday was identical to the one that was passed by the Assembly June 19. Paterson and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have also expressed support for the bill.
Stressing that this bill should lead result in a greater awareness of safety for young hunters, Aubertine said, “I've always supported allowing young people who have taken safety courses to hunt with a responsible adult. I've strived to raise awareness for sportsmen's issues among my colleagues and members from both parties pushed for this legislation, along with the DEC. I'm proud to see this pass both houses and eagerly await the governor's signature."
Upon the governor’s final approval, 14- and 15-year-old hunters will be allowed to hunt deer and bear while under the supervision of an adult. It will also allow 12- and 13-year-olds to hunt small game, provided they have the same adult supervision. This bill is in attempt to continue making things safer for hunters in this area and across the state. With New York state’s own hunting safety course in place, statistics show the number of hunting-related shootings are steadily declining for the past several years, with the most recent hunting season being the safest ever on record in New York state, with only 14 accidents reported.
Aubertine added, “Simply put, New York’s law was not practical. Young men and women under 16 were not allowed to hunt big game under any scenario — a limitation no other state has implemented. The earlier you teach people how to hunt, the safer we make the outdoors and the more people will appreciate our environment.”
He concluded, “Teaching the proper way to handle a firearm at an early age fosters a respect for the weapon and its safe use. This bill will allow our hunters to pass along the sport to the next generation.”