By Lars Dalseide | August 28 2014 13:29

From the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation - DEC Finalizes Rule Changes to Implement New Crossbow Hunting Law

New Regulations Now in Effect for Fall 2014

American Hunter's Karen Mehall takes aim with a crossbow Albany, New York - The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has adopted final regulation changes to ensure that the crossbow is a legal implement for the fall 2014 hunting seasons, Commission Joe Martens announced today. These regulations are adopted under new state law which authorizes DEC to allow big game (deer and bear) and small game hunting with a crossbow under certain conditions.

"The new law that authorizes the use of crossbows for hunting demonstrates Governor Cuomo's commitment to increasing hunting opportunities here in New York State," said Commissioner Martens. "Crossbow hunting is growing across the country and the new law expands the opportunities for hunters to use crossbows when hunting in New York."

The final regulations adopted today include the following:

General

  • Crossbows may not be used for hunting any wildlife in Suffolk, Nassau, or Westchester counties.
  • Crossbows may be used only by licensees who are 14 years of age or older.
  • With landowner permission, crossbows may be discharged within 250 feet of a home, school building or playground, public structure, farm structure in use, or occupied factory or church.
  • A crossbow may not be possessed in or on a motor vehicle unless it is un-cocked.
  • When you are in a vehicle and using a spotlight to look at wildlife, a crossbow may not be possessed unless it is unstrung or taken down or securely fastened in a case or locked in the trunk of the vehicle.
  • Anyone hunting with a crossbow must have:
    1. completed a Standard Hunter Education course offered by DEC on or after April 1, 2014; OR
    2. completed a DEC-approved on-line or other training program (e.g., material provided in the annual hunting guide). Hunters must carry a signed self-certification in the field when hunting with a crossbow as proof of compliance.
  • Crossbows may not be used to take carp or any other fish species.

Crossbow Specifications

  • A legal crossbow consists of a bow and string, either compound or recurve, that launches a minimum 14-inch bolt or arrow, not including point, mounted upon a stock with a trigger that holds the string and limbs under tension until released.
  • The trigger unit of a crossbow must have a working safety.
  • The minimum limb width of a crossbow is 17 inches (measured from the widest part of the limbs, un-cocked). Crossbows must have a minimum peak draw weight of 100 pounds and a maximum peak draw weight of 200 pounds.
  • The minimum overall length of a crossbow from butt-stock to front of limbs shall be 24 inches.

Big Game

  • Crossbows may not be used to take deer or bear in WMU 4J in Albany County, WMU 8C in Monroe County, or any part of Suffolk, Nassau or Westchester counties.
  • For licensing, the new law treats crossbows as a "muzzleloader." Hunters must possess a muzzleloader hunting privilege to legally hunt with a crossbow during any muzzleloader season OR during open portions of the early bowhunting seasons. The muzzleloader license privilege is not required when hunting with a crossbow during the early bear season or the regular firearms seasons.
  • Crossbows may be used to take bear during the early bear season, early muzzleloader season in the Northern Zone, regular firearms seasons in the Northern and Southern Zones, and the late muzzleloader season in the Southern Zone.
  • Crossbows may be used to take deer during:
    o early and late muzzleloader season in the Northern Zone and late muzzleloader season in the Southern Zone using Bow/Muzzleloader tags, deer management permits (DMPs), deer management assistance permit tags (DMAPs), or an unfilled Regular Big Game tag (late season only);
    o regular firearms seasons using a Regular Big Game tag, DMPs, or DMAP tags.
  • Crossbows may also be used to take deer or bear during limited portions of bowhunting seasons as follows, provided that the hunter possesses the muzzleloading privilege:
    o During the last 14 days of the early bowhunting season in the Southern Zone (i.e., November 1 - November 14, 2014);
    o During the last 10 days of the early bowhunting season in the Northern Zone (i.e., October 15 - October 24, 2014; this includes the 7-day early muzzleloader season in the Northern Zone);
    o Only Bow/Muzzloader tags, DMPs or DMAPs may be used during these times.
  • Junior big game hunters (age 14-15) may not use a crossbow to take a deer during the Youth Deer Hunt weekend (October 11 - 13, 2014). Adult mentors who accompany a junior big game hunter on the Youth Deer Hunt weekend may not possess a crossbow or firearm while afield on those days.

Small Game

  • Wild turkey - crossbows may be used to hunt wild turkey in either the fall or spring.
  • Crossbows may not be used to take waterfowl or other migratory game birds.
  • Crossbows may not be possessed afield in the Northern Zone when hunting small game (except coyotes) with the aid of a dog or when accompanied by a dog.
  • Crossbows may be used to take any other small game or upland game birds during their respective open seasons, or to take unprotected wildlife (e.g., red squirrels and woodchucks) at any time.

Details of the final rule can be viewed in the August 27, 2014 publication of the New York State Register and on DEC's website at www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/34113.html#Part1Part2p. For a general summary of the law, see DEC's information on crossbow hunting available on DEC's website. DEC's position on crossbow use for deer hunting is provided in Appendix 5 of the NYS Deer Management Plan (www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/deerplan2012.pdf).

With the purchase of a 2014-2015 sporting license, on sale as of August 4, 2014, New York hunters will receive copies of the new Hunting and Trapping Law and Regulations Guide, and the new crossbow regulations are clearly described in the Guide. The Guide features information on the educational requirements for hunters using crossbows. Hunters are required to read the safety information available in the Guide and on the DEC website, and certify that they have done so. This certification must be carried when afield hunting with a crossbow. Crossbow hunters should carefully read all of the information in the Guide to ensure that they are in full compliance with the new regulations.

Governor Cuomo signed into law the changes to the Environmental Conservation Law in April, 2014. DEC's final regulations maximize the use of crossbows allowed under the law's provisions.

The NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative is an effort to improve recreational opportunities for sportsmen and women and to boost tourism activities throughout the State. This initiative includes streamlining fishing and hunting licenses, reducing license fees, improving access for fishing, and increasing hunting opportunities in New York State.

In support of this initiative, this year's budget includes $6 million in NY Works funding to support creating 50 new land and water access projects to connect hunters, anglers, bird watchers, and others who enjoy the outdoors to more than 380,000 acres of existing state and easement lands that have not reached their full potential. These 50 new access projects include building new boat launches, installing new hunting blinds, and building new trails and parking areas. In addition, the 2014-15 budget includes $4 million to repair the State's fish hatcheries; and renews and allows expanded use of crossbows for hunting in New York State.

This year's budget also reduces short-term fishing license fees; increases the number of authorized statewide free fishing days to eight from two; authorizes DEC to offer 10 days of promotional prices for hunting, fishing and trapping licenses; and authorizes free Adventure Plates for new lifetime license holders, discounted Adventure Plates for existing lifetime license holders, and regular fee Adventure Plates for annual license holders.

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